Daimler to rule on future of Maybach next month

Daimler says it will make a decision on its struggling Maybach brand by July 1, which could include a new partnership with Aston Martin.

The future of Daimler's ultra-luxury Maybach brand has hung in the balance for the last few years, but the German automaker says it will make a decision on the fate of its Rolls-Royce rivaling brand by July 1.

Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche confirmed at a recent event that the company is considering two options for its Maybach division - wind down the slow-selling brand or partner with British automaker Aston Martin. Whatever the case, Zetsche said a decision will be made by July 1.

Daimler previously denied it was in talks with Aston Martin over the development of the second-generation Maybach, but Zetsche confirmed that talks between the two sides have been ongoing. In fact, Zetsche revealed there is a completed concept for the Aston Martin developed Maybach awaiting final approval.

It remains to be seen if the Aston Martin deal will be pushed through, but Zetsche did admitted that the $1 billion investment to relaunch the Maybach brand was "not a good investment for a small-volume vehicle." Maybach produced just 157 cars last year, well off initial sales goals of 1,500 units per year.

If Daimler approves the Aston Martin deal, the British automaker will take the lead on the next Maybach, including production. In return, Aston Martin could gain access to Mercedes-Benz' V8 and V12 engines, as well as the company's seven-speed automatic transmission.

1.'Decision is near...' view