Among the rich and famous, Rolls-Royce and Bentley cars have always been a preferred mode of transportation. These are cars that no one else can afford. You can be a luxury pretender with ownership of a BMW or Mercedes-Benz, thanks to entry-level models.
Prestige is garnered by years at the top. Maybach was Mercedes-Benz’ effort to break into this market, which has two establishes players. As most of us probably know, it didn’t go as well as Mercedes had oped. Quite a few celebrities jumped on board with the car though, and according to Automotive News, Bentley is making an effort to go after them.
Bentley Chief Executive Officer Wolfgang Duerheimer said as much at the Detroit auto show: “The withdrawal of Maybach is a business opportunity for us and we’re going to use it.” Rolls-Royce was less zealous: “We naturally welcome any current Maybach customers…..but seeking them out and hunting them down is not the Rolls-Royce way.”
Duerheimer says he’s hearing from Maybach customers, and they feel abandoned. Analysts think that these buyers wanted something more exclusive than a Mercedes-Benz in the first place, and won’t be heading back to the more plebeian brand. To win them over, Bentley is inviting high-profile customers to its factory in Crewe, England for a VIP tour.
It isn’t clear if this offer is being extended to Maybach owners going years back, ones recently are just a certain select few. 200 Maybachs were sold last year, but a whole lot more than that was sold over the car’s lifespan, making it a potentially big market opportunity.
What’s more than the actual sales too is product placement from high-profile customers. Maybach owners include the Sultan of Brunei, Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich and the Spanish monarchy. If a good percentage move over to Bentleys thanks to a letter writing campaign by the CEO and a few VIP trips to England, it will definitely be more cost effective than any advertising campaign.