Maybach created what is probably his most outstanding design after Daimler’s death in 1900: in March 1901 the first Mercedes caused a sensation at the Nice Week. This car was significantly different from any other vehicle previously designed and built by Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft, and put an end to the era of the coach in automotive engineering.
In subsequent years Mercedes cars met with great success. Maybach, however, fell victim to several intrigues. He was replaced as Chief Engineer and limited his activities to an Invention Department. In 1907 he left DMG an embittered man.
When Zeppelin LZ 4 was destroyed by a squall on August 5, 1908, Maybach offered to build a new, improved airship engine for Count Zeppelin. On March 23, 1909 'Luftfahrzeug-Motorenbau-GmbH Bissingen' was founded as a result. The company’s Chief Engineer was Wilhelm Maybach’s son Karl, who had also designed the new engine. Renamed 'Luftfahrzeug-Motoren-GmbH', the company moved to Friedrichshafen in 1912. Father and son each held a 20 percent shareholding in the venture, however Wilhelm Maybach left the management of the company to his son.
Luxury cars were also produced in Friedrichshafen from 1922. The flagship in the product range was the Maybach 12 DS of 1929. This was the world’s first car with a V12 engine, and like its successor, the Zeppelin, it was seen as the German answer to the Rolls-Royce. Wilhelm Maybach died on December 29, 1929.