The future of the auto industry is China. It’s the world’s largest auto market, it’s growing quickly, and its emissions regulations—among the strictest on the planet—are even pushing the world’s automakers to abandon the internal combustion engine. Chinese customer preferences have also led designers to increase rear seat legroom and offer in-car perfume systems. And now, China has gifted the world an electric Maybach SUV.
At the Auto China 2018 car show in Beijing today, Mercedes-Benz showed off the Vision Mercedes-Maybach Ultimate Luxury, a vehicle so stuffed with goodies you might even decide to overlook the questionable exterior design. Mercedes, which owns the Maybach brand, says the crossover is inspired by both a sedan and an SUV. But that tension is not necessarily a good thing: The car starts with an overly long hood (despite the absence of an engine to put in it), and the rear two thirds look as if they have been contracted and converted into some extra height. More pleasing exterior details include turbine-style, 24-inch wheels, and door handles that lie flush against the body, and pop out when in use, like the ones on a Tesla.
The four electric motors (one for each wheel) combine to produce a gargantuan 750 horsepower, enough to hustle this behemoth of a car up to 155 mph. The range from the 80-kwh battery pack is a less impressive 200 miles. By comparison, the Tesla Model X with a 100-hwk pack, which starts at $96,000, goes nearly 300 miles between charges. Startup SF Motors promises 300 from its forthcoming SUV. You can expect 200 miles from Jaguar’s e-Pace.
Whatever, your chauffeur can figure out where and when to charge the thing. You should be focused on the interior. Maybach, you see, stupendous luxury doesn’t cut it around these parts. The Maybach name intimates something greater: opulence. To complement all the fine woods and half a feedlot’s worth of the finest white nappa leather, the backs of all four seats are coated in ultra shiny, rose gold-colored aluminum. The seats offer massages too, of course, and in the back, come with calf supports.
The driver gets a pair of 12.3-inch screens, and the fancier folk riding in back get a tea set. Yes, the Vision Mercedes-Maybach Ultimate Luxury comes with a built in, heated ebony tray that holds a teapot and cups. Per the press release, this setup allows “exquisite tea-drinking enjoyment.” (Note to butler: Enough Lipton’s, please start buying exquisite tea.) Just hope the ride quality is smooth enough to keep you from staining anything.
The car is just a concept for now, but expect Mercedes to follow up with a production version of the car in the next few years; the Maybach as shown wouldn’t require any major changes to make it meet regulations. The exploding market for SUVs and regulators’ insistence that automakers selling cars in China ramp up their electric offerings makes this luxo-barge nearly ready to set sail. As long as you’re ready to pay for it.