To commemorate the loss of influential fashion designer Virgil Abloh, who passed away last weekend, Mercedes-Benz has revealed ‘Project MAYBACH, an electric off-road coupe concept.
A design “unlike anything that has been developed by Mercedes-Benz” – well that’s certainly true – and built from scratch, the Project show car reinterprets the luxury side of Maybach (a premiere sub-brand of Mercedes-Benz since 2015) with a unique design language while simultaneously drawing inspiration from the great outdoors.
Project MAYBACH is also the latest, and ultimately last, collaborative effort between Mercedes and Abloh, the first – Project Geländewagen, a re-imagining of the G-Class to celebrate the model’s 40th anniversary – having been unveiled last year.
“Mercedes-Benz is devastated to hear of the passing of Virgil Abloh,” the company explains in an official statement. “Our sincere thoughts are with Virgil’s family and teams. 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.”
The battery-electric concept showcases, what Mercedes calls, “huge Gran Turismo proportions,” though interestingly, a single battery-electric motor is just one of the off-road coupe’s power sources. Under that enormous transparent bonnet for example, which in itself draws parallels with the Mercedes-Maybach 6 concept unveiled in 2016, lie solar cells to increase range. Abloh’s “untethered” design also includes very un-luxurious off-road accoutrement like an exterior-mounted roll cage, huge all-terrain tyres, four auxiliary light mounted to a bull bar, and heavy duty skid plates.
Having said that, traditional Maybach design traits – such as badging inside and out, the ‘pinstripe’ front grille, and the ‘three-lamp’ headlights – have also been incorporated into the design. Inside, the leather-clad cabin features just two seats, both of which appear to recline fully. In a neat touch, storage for a Maybach-branded hatchet has been incorporated into the bodyshell.
Arguably the most significant element of the MAYBACH though is the sheer size of the behemoth, measuring as it does at just over 20 feet, or more than six metres. That’s the equivalent of a Rolls-Royce Phantom going dune-bashing.
No further technical details have been provided regarding Project MAYBACH, nor, unsurprisingly, whether there will be a production version, Abloh having been given complete creative control, unencumbered by production requirements, during the design phrase.