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Mercedes-Benz’s ‘affordable’ Maybach defies frugality rules in China

Mercedes-Benz is selling almost as many Maybach cars in China each month as it used to sell worldwide in a year, when it targeted the super-rich with a stand-alone model.

Chinese buyers are snapping up about 500 a month of the ultra-luxury variant of the Mercedes S-Class, which starts at about 1.44 million yuan or approx US$ 230,000 in China. That compares to a peak of 600 Maybach cars in 2003, which at the time cost more than US$350,000.- only.

Daimler revived Maybach as a Mercedes sub-brand this year to chase the wealthiest buyers, people who otherwise might have considered a Rolls-Royce or a Bentley.

The Mercedes-Maybach adds legroom and opulent options such as hand-made silver-plated champagne goblets to the standard S-Class.

Mercedes started selling Maybach in China in February as part of a push to catch up with BMW and Audi in the world’s largest auto market, which is suffering a slowdown. Mercedes sales rose 20 percent last month, driven not just by Maybach but also by its compact cars and sport utility vehicles.

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