While some vehicles can trace their history back to the early 1900’s, Lexus is relatively young in that it was 1983 when a Japanese entrepreneur by the name of Eiji Toyoda, the Chairman of the Toyota Motor Company, announced their objective to build “the best car in the world.”
Toyota began a secret project code-named Flagship One (F1) with the goal of expanding Toyota’s product line, but it was a daunting task. They were told it needed to reach 250 km/h, while consuming less than 10.51 L/100km. This seemed nearly impossible, but six years and a billion dollars later, their innovative ideas, new processes and revolutionary designs created the Lexus LS 400.
In doing so, they also changed car manufacturing forever.
The First Vehicle
The LS400 was unique in the sense that it didn’t contain any of the main elements of vehicles the Toyota Motor Company had produced in the past. More than 100 designers, 1,000 engineers, and 2,000 technicians took part in developing an extremely high standard vehicle.
It paid off, as the LS400 beat out both the Mercedes-Benz 420 SE and BMW 735i as reviewed by Car and Driver Magazine in that first year. As a result, this had an adverse effect on the sales of Mercedes-Benz and BMWs in the US, where figures dropped by 29% and 19% respectively.
Welcoming Lexus to the U.S.
After the development of the car, a specialist team of marketing experts named “Team One” put out insightful advertisements in an effort to quell the critics in the automotive industry who had no faith in a luxury sedan coming from Japan.
When the Lexus LS 400 made entry into the US market during the North American Auto Show in Detroit in 1989, it had no problem attracting many customers because of its unique appearance, highly positive reviews, and low price point compared to the vehicles it was being compared against.
Growth and Innovation
They would only continue to grow from that point forward, and the increased demand for the Lexus resulted to a huge drop in the sale of the European import cars. In 1991, Toyota developed new models for the Lexus including the ES 300 Sedan and the SC 400 Coupe.
The Lexus LX 450 debuted in 1996, and the new millennium saw them introduce a series of entry-level sports sedans, the IS line, and the marque’s first convertible, the SC 430, a year later.
In 2004, the company sold its two-millionth vehicle, after which Lexus officially separated from its parent company, Toyota, in 2005. That year they also developed a new improved model Lexus RX 400h, which had a hybrid driving system that attracted many new customers.
In 2017, Lexus finished just behind Mercedes and BMW in the US luxury sales race with 305,132 vehicles sold. And while the brand’s financial data is not disclosed publicly, it’s estimated that it has a brand value of approximately $3 billion yearly.