Stand back… it’s a Mercedes like you have never seen before. Outrageous in its size (nearly 6m long), in its design and concept, the two-seat battery-electric off-road coupe is revealed today in the US as Project Maybach.
Built from scratch “with complete creative freedom”, the astonishing machine is an attempt to “recontextualize” the Mercedes group’s super-luxury brand, and take it out of the city into the great outdoors.
No ordinary brief then and no ordinary creative force behind it. Project Maybach was a collaborative project between Daimler group design czar Gorden Wagoner and Virgil Abloh, the former artistic director of Louis Vuitton. Abloh’s death aged 41 on 28th November 2021 brought an added poignancy to the unveiling in Miami. Mercedes says that following the family’s wishes, the unveiling was held in tribute to the “polymath artist, architect, creative director, fashion designer and philanthropist.”
A Mercedes statement read: “Now opening the world of our collaboration, and Virgil’s unique vision, to the public we want to respectfully celebrate the work of a truly unique design talent, who created endless possibilities for collaboration through his unbridled imagination and inspired all that knew his work.”
Mercedes says Abloh’s Maybach legacy will “forever question the automotive status quo”, something it is difficult to disagree with. The concept is amazing everywhere, including the solar cells under the transparent bonnet, the banks of spotlights and truly massive wheels.
And what about that front end? If a Rolls-Royce had ever appeared in a Mad Max film it would surely have looked a bit like this. But then, who said “rewriting the rulebook of aspirational design” would ever be easy?