CarBuyer Analysis: Mercedes-Benz aims for the top-end of luxury

Derryn Wong
Mercedes-AMG Project One - CarBuyer Singapore - on the road

Mercedes-Benz will muscle into Rolls-Royce and Bugatti territory with more high-end cars, limited editions, more electric tech, and trimming its small car range

Stuttgart, Germany – Mercedes-Benz is beefing up its strategy for a stab at a bigger slice of the luxury automotive pie – to the tune of 60 percent of the ‘top-end’ automotive market by 2026. 

Summed up, the company is not chasing numbers, but wants to make fewer cars it’ll sell for a bigger price tag – and more profit.

Chairman of the Daimler board, Ola Källenius at the Mercedes-Benz Strategy Update - CarBuyer Singapore
Chairman of the Daimler board, Ola Källenius at the Mercedes-Benz Strategy Update

The company is aiming at more profitability by targeting the fattest end of the automobile market through electrifying and expanding its most premium sub-brands, and building more limited editions and collaborations.  Its entry level offerings will be pruned down, but these will enjoy the same onboard infotainment and electric drive tech seen across its whole lineup. 

While the brand is already one of the leading luxury automobile manufacturers, its new business approach aims at enhanced profitability and financial ‘reliability’, which will ‘enable the company to deliver a strong financial result even under more challenging market conditions.’ 

How? By focusing on where margins are fattest: The high-end luxury car market.

It’s a long way to the top

2022 Mercedes-EQ EQS - CarBuyer Singapore - Car at Mercedes-Benz Concept Store Singapore
Mercedes-EQ’s EQS sedan popped up in Singapore at its new brand experience location

Mercedes says it aims to increase its share of the ‘Top End’ luxury segment to 60 percent in four years’ time. There’s no figure for Mercedes’ current share, we estimate this to be above one-third, but it’s nonetheless a clear aim for market dominance in a segment shared with Audi, BMW, Jaguar, Lexus, Porsche, and more. 

In any case, ‘Top End’ is a rather nebulous term. By the company’s own definition it includes: All AMG models, all Maybach models, G-Wagen models, all ‘S’ cars (S-Class, GLS, EQS, EQS SUV), and limited edition cars. 

But Mercedes figures it has the – ahem – luxury of many bankable names/brands in its stable. 

This Mercedes is the single most expensive car in history – at S$200 million bucks

“Most luxury companies build their portfolio on the basis of one or two true icons. Mercedes-Benz has the good fortune to have multiple iconic products and brands at the upper end of its portfolio – such as the S-Class, the SL, the G as well as the AMG and Maybach brands. We see great potential here to expand our Top-End portfolio with even more fascinating products for our customers,” said Ola Källenius, Chairman of the Board of Management of Mercedes-Benz Group AG. 

2022 Porsche 911 Sport Classic - CarBuyer Singapore
Porsche’s very good at the whole ‘limited edition earn more’ thing – like the latest 911 Sport Classic shows

The soft side of super-luxury is whether you have enough ‘narrative/heritage ammunition’ to make special products that really do seem special, as opposed to an all-out cash grab. The truth is somewhere in between, but there’s no denying Mercedes has plenty of artillery in the basement.

The potential is surely there, but if we look at rival conglomerates, Daimler/Mercedes is on the back foot here with Maybach’s modern revival finally taking place (see more below) after some false starts. In comparison, BMW Group’s Rolls-Royce, and VW Group’s Bentley have an established track record in this area.

More OG and more G

2022 Mercedes-Maybach S 580 L and GLS 600 - CarBuyer Singapore - static driveway
We had a go at the two new Mercedes-Maybach models in Singapore – the S-Class and GLS

To kick that off, Mercedes-Maybach (already up and running with its ‘soft’ relaunch in Singapore this year) will be getting two new models this year, with poshed-up versions of the SL convertible and the EQS SUV. 

While the G-Wagen exists as one core model for now, it will receive a fully-electric version soon, and ‘steps to expand the G product family’ are being considered. A production version of the ‘G coupe’? A coupe-styled G-Wagen? Maybe a midsized GLC-sized G Wagen? Don’t count them out, we say, as there’s plenty of room for Merc to manoeuvre in this SUV-mad age. 

Remember that the G-Wagen 6×6 (below) was Mercedes’ largest, heaviest, and second-most expensive vehicle at launch in 2013 – but it managed to overshoot its sales target. No wonder Mercedes thinks there’s more to be made down this route.

2013 Mercedes-AMG G-Wagen 6x6 - CarBuyer Singapore
The G-Wagen 6×6 was a insane special edition that (obviously) sold out

A new kind of Mercedes will also hit the streets, or at least, the collector’s garage floors. Dubbed ‘Mythos’ there will be very expensive and very limited cars available ‘exclusively to the most dedicated enthusiasts and collectors of Mercedes-Benz’. 

It sounds like Mercedes is following the hypercar/exotic playbook: Very exclusive cars for a very exclusive clientele. 

The super-limited, super-expensive, super-high-performance Mercedes-AMG Project One is the harbinger of more mega-Mercs to come under the ‘Mythos’ label

For instance, the limited-edition tactic is a common one, but it’s cars with history and heritage that tend to appreciate in value. In the German luxury arena, BMW M’s already cranked out plenty of tasty machines such as the M3 GTS, and more recently, the M4 CSL. For example, Porsche’s Design Edition, Speedster models, or Sport Classic.

Huge pricetags no longer matter to the super rich – but exclusivity and OTT-ness do

That’s the cars, but what about the clientele? And like Bugatti, Ferrari, Porsche, and more, not just anyone can buy these cars, you have to have a relationship with the brand ie. a garageful of Ferraris already, to even have a foot in the door. 

Mercedes-AMG has already started down this path in the past – the AMG Black series, the CLK DTM, and more recently the AMG Project One is a great example. But Merc’s unique cars could also be luxurious, not just fast, as Mercedes-Maybach’s recent Virgil Abloh edition of the S-Class shows.                        

The Mercedes-Maybach S-Class Virgil Abloh edition is a 150-unit limited-edition collaboration with the prominent fashion designer

The logical extreme end of this is one-offs for top-tier clients – an example that springs to mind is Eric Clapton’s one-off Ferrari 458-based tribute to the BB. We’ve seen that Mercedes still has tremendous brand value – it made the most expensive car ever – and we could have Mercedes Classic collaborating with AMG to make say, an SL as a ‘Uhlenhaut Reissue’. Whatever purists might say, it’s hard to see the global market for super-high-end cars turning something with a three-pointed star down. 

Page 2: Goodbye CLA? Why Mercedes is slaying some of its small cars

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eqs EQS SUV GLS mercedes-amg Mercedes-Benz mercedes-eq S-Class

About the Author

Derryn Wong

CarBuyer's former chief editor was previously the editor for Top Gear Singapore, and a presenter for CNA's Cruise Control motoring segment. An avid motorcyclist and photographer, he is the Chief Slave of two cats. Follow him on Instagram @werryndong

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