Days after his death, Mercedes-Benz debuts the zero-emissions Project Maybach concept car designed by Virgil Abloh.
“The world has lost a genius. But his inspiration and legacy will live on. In honor of Virgil Abloh—Project Maybach,” reads an Instagram post shared by Mercedes-Benz. The German automaker debuted the car at Art Basel in Miami, where Abloh was scheduled to appear this week. He died on Sunday after a private battle with an aggressive form of cancer. Abloh was 41.
“Mercedes-Benz is devastated to hear of the passing of Virgil Abloh,” Mercedes-Benz AG said.
“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.”
With the blessing from the Abloh family, the carmaker put the vehicle on display at Rubell Museum in lieu of a press event.
The late designer worked on the concept with Mercedes, their second, and final, collaboration, in a design the company says is “unlike anything that has been developed by Mercedes-Benz.”
Abloh conceived of the car—a zero-emissions solar-powered two-seater. While concept only—it’s unlikely to ever go into production—it speaks to the confluence of sustainable design and electric vehicles.
The brand says every element of the new Project Maybach car was built from scratch. It includes solar cells under a transparent front bonnet. The cells would power the battery. The Project Maybach car, which Mercedes says was inspired by the outdoors, “combines huge Gran Turismo proportions, large off-road wheels and distinctive attachments.”
“The X-Factor nature of Project Maybach results not only from its breathtaking size—almost six meters long—and characteristics, but above all from its unique contrasts; most notably through how naturally authentic Mercedes-Maybach design elements are harmoniously combined with a new Outdoor Adventure design motif,” the company said.
Project Maybach was first announced in October. Abloh and Gorden Wagener, Mercedes-Benz‘s chief design officer, worked together on the concept following their first collaboration in 2020 on the G-Class race car, Project Geländewagen.
“The objective is to push the boundaries of each respective creative realm and reimagine the luxury landscape,” Mercedes-Benz said of the first collaboration with the Louis Vuitton director.
“Together [Abloh and Wagener] considered how to make the viewer look at Mercedes-Benz designs with a fresh perspective, while driving luxury away from a polished and flawless aesthetic to something raw, natural and altogether more honest,” the company said.
“Collaboration is when two people, groups, brands, ideologies, come together with two different languages to create a new one,” Abloh told Hypebeast last year. “Mercedes-Benz is a brand that stands for luxury and exceptional performance. There’s a history to the brand and the effects it has had on culture that just can’t be denied.”
The late designer explained that one of his personal rules, or “‘cheat notes’ as I like to call them,” he said, “is the rule of three. To me, an existing object needs to be altered by only 3 percent to become something new, to evoke a new or different emotion, to be perceived differently by the world. I carry this with me in everything I do.”