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Mercedes is still open to a Maybach SUV, but wants to wait

Mercedes-Benz resuscitated the Maybach ultra-luxury brand just in time for the rise of ultra-luxury SUVs. The recently introduced Bentley Bentayga will soon be joined by an SUV from Rolls-Royce, and an extra-swanky version of BMW’s upcoming X7.

And now Mercedes is hinting, again, that Maybach could get an SUV as well. The company doesn’t seem to be in any rush, though. None of Mercedes’ current SUV platforms will be suitable for a Maybach, so any SUV project would have to wait until a next-generation platform is developed, Mercedes board member Ola Källenius said in a recent interview with Top Gear.

He said demand for SUVs is strong and is expected to remain so. SUV enthusiasm reached a fever pitch in the early 2000s, but was dampened by the Great Recession. Today, despite stricter fuel-economy standards, SUVs are more popular than ever, leading manufacturers to introduce more models in all corners of the segment.

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The Bentley and Rolls-Royce SUVs would be natural rivals for a Maybach truck, but if Mercedes really does green light this rig, it will likely be because rival BMW is trying something similar. BMW brand executive Ian Robertson recently said the Bavarian carmaker plans to launch a high-end version of its X7 that will cost more than $100,000. Given how much the German companies love copying each other, it’s unlikely Mercedes will leave that challenge unanswered.

The standard X7 will be BMW’s answer to the Mercedes GLS-Class (formerly the GL-Class), and that model will likely form the basis of a Maybach SUV. That would follow the pattern of the current Mercedes-Maybach S600, in which an existing Mercedes model is upgraded to Maybach standards.

The current GLS platform probably still has some life in it, so it’s unclear when we’ll see a Maybach SUV. But if the SUV market remains as robust as it is now, you can bet Mercedes will go forward with one eventually.