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EVs & Mobility

This article was published on December 2, 2021

Virgil Abloh’s Mercedes-Maybach EV encapsulates the late designer’s radical touch

The concept car was displayed at the Rubbel Museum to honor Abloh's memory

Virgil Abloh’s Mercedes-Maybach EV encapsulates the late designer’s radical touch
Ioanna Lykiardopoulou
Story by

Ioanna Lykiardopoulou

Ioanna is a writer at SHIFT. She likes the transition from old to modern, and she's all about shifting perspectives. Ioanna is a writer at SHIFT. She likes the transition from old to modern, and she's all about shifting perspectives.

Mercedes-Benz unveiled a wild electric show car: Project Maybach. And apart from its striking appearance, the vehicle also has sentimental value. The car was co-designed by the late fashion designer Virgil Abloh. To honor his memory, it was put on display at the Rubell Museum in Miami between December 1 and 2. 

Abloh worked together with the automaker’s chief design officer Gorden Wagener to develop a new design language for Mercedes-Maybach’s luxury identity. 

Every element of Project Maybach is created from scratch, the company says, and this has resulted into a car design “unlike anything that has been developed by Mercedes-Benz.”

Mercedes Project Maybach Virgil Abloh
Just… wow. Credit: Mercedes-Benz

Inspired by the idea “luxury meets the great outdoors,” the concept car is full of stark contracts and unexpected features, which somehow find a way to complement each other.

First up, it’s the surprising merge of a two-seater coupe with an off-roader.

Mercedes Project Maybach Virgil Abloh
Credit: Mercedes-Benz

As such, it comes with thick all-terrain tires and an exterior roll cage extending up and over the cabin. At the front and rear, there are also additional metal skid plates, as well as body cladding with visible rivets over the wheel wells.

Mercedes Project Maybach Virgil Abloh
Credit: Mercedes-Benz

At the same time, the concept car has an unusual size: it’s almost six meters long. That could have wrong, but I think it adds to its coupe nature; the elongated form somehow smooths the ruggedness of the off-road characteristics.

Mercedes Project Maybach Virgil Abloh
Credit: Mercedes-Benz

Under a full-width light bar, the Project Maybach’s front end includes circular LED headlamps and chrome vertical grille trim elements. A bull bar affixed to the bumper has four auxiliary lights, while the roof rack has four extra.

Round taillights mimic the headlights, and the two-tone appearance conceals solar cells beneath the transparent hood, added to increase the imagined (and unknown) range of the car. Maybe that’s overkill, but an interesting choice nonetheless.

Mercedes Project Maybach Virgil Abloh
Credit: Mercedes-Benz

Interestingly, the interior is luxurious but in a very minimalistic way. And I do like the “less is more” vibe it exudes.

Mercedes Project Maybach Virgil Abloh
Credit: Mercedes-Benz

All in all, Project Maybach proudly expresses the radical and future-driven touch of Virgil Abloh. I don’t think it will ever reach production, but it’s still a telling testament of the designer’s legacy that stretches far beyond fashion.

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