Monday, December 22, 2008



Lexus (Japanese: レクサス, Rekusasu) is the luxury vehicle division of Japanese automaker Toyota Motor Corporation. First introduced in the United States, where Lexus has become the highest-selling make of luxury cars, today Lexus brand name vehicles are available throughout the world. In 2005, the Lexus marque launched in Japan, marking the continued global expansion of the luxury division.

Lexus originated from a clandestine flagship sedan project which began in 1983. This effort developed into the original Lexus LS, which was the first vehicle to wear the Lexus marque upon its launch in 1989. In following years, Lexus added sedan, coupe, and SUV models. Hybrid drivetrains arrived in 2005, and the F-marque performance division debuted in 2007. From the start of production, Lexus vehicles have been consistently produced in Japan, with manufacturing centered in the Chūbu and Kyūshū regions. Assembly of the first Lexus built outside the country, the Ontario, Canada-produced RX, began in 2003.

Since 1989, Lexus has developed a reputation for vehicle reliability and customer service, as measured by independent surveys. In 2008, consumer ratings firm J.D. Power and Associates named Lexus the most reliable brand in the U.S. for the fourteenth year based on its Vehicle Dependability Survey, a measure of over 53,000 vehicle owners and problems experienced in the first three years of vehicle ownership. Through 2008, Consumer Reports has also named Lexus among the top five most reliable brands in its Annual Car Reliability Surveys of over one million vehicles across the U.S.

The Lexus slogan is The Pursuit of Perfection.


The F1 project

The first LS 400 flagship sedan debuted in 1989, introducing Lexus to the world.

In 1983, Toyota Chairman Eiji Toyoda summoned a secret meeting of company executives, to whom he posed the question, “Can we create a luxury vehicle to challenge the world's best?” This question prompted Toyota to embark on a top-secret project, codenamed F1 (“Flagship” and “No. 1 vehicle”).The F1 project, which eventually became known as the Lexus LS 400, aimed to develop a luxury car that would expand Toyota’s product line, giving it a foothold in the premium segment and offering both longtime and new customers an upmarket product.The F1 project followed the success of the Toyota Supra sports car and the luxury Toyota Cressida models. Both the Supra and Cressida were rear-wheel drive cars with a powerful 7M-GE/7M-GTE engine. The U.S. launch of the Acura marque by Honda three years prior also influenced Toyota in its plans for a luxury division. Around this same time, Nissan would unveil plans to create its own luxury division, Infiniti, while Mazda also considered developing a luxury division, to be called Amati.

Toyota researchers visited the U.S. in May 1985 to conduct focus groups and market research on luxury consumers. That summer, several F1 designers rented a home in Laguna Beach, California, to observe the lifestyles and tastes of American upper-class consumers. Toyota’s market research concluded that a separate brand and sales channel was needed to present its new luxury flagship, and plans were made to develop a new network of dealerships in the U.S. market.

Brand development

The grille of a Lexus IS featuring the Lexus emblem.

In 1986, Toyota’s longtime advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi formed a specialized unit, Team One, to handle marketing for the new luxury brand. Image consulting firm Lippincott & Margulies was hired to develop a list of 219 prospective names; Vectre, Verone, Chaparel, Calibre and Alexis were chosen as top candidates. While Alexis quickly became the front runner (also associated with the Alexis Carrington character on the popular 1980s primetime drama Dynasty) and later morphed to Lexus, the name has been attributed to the combination of the words "luxury" and "elegance", and another theory claims it is an acronym for "luxury exports to the U.S." According to Team One interviews, the name has no specific meaning and simply denotes a luxurious and technological image.

Just prior to the release of the first vehicles, database service LexisNexis obtained a temporary injunction forbidding the name Lexus from being used as they stated it might cause confusion. Upon reflection, the court lifted the injunction, deciding that there was a low likelihood of confusion between the two products.

The original Lexus slogan, developed after Team One representatives visited Lexus designers in Japan and noted their obsessive attention to detail, became "The Relentless Pursuit of Perfection."

The Lexus logo was developed by Molly Designs and Hunter Communications. The final design for the Lexus logo featured a stylized “L” within an oval, and according to Toyota was rendered using a precise mathematical formula. The first teaser ads featuring the Lexus name and logo, designed by Team One, appeared at the Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York auto shows in 1988.


In 1989, Lexus showcased the smoothness of its V8 engines by placing champagne glasses on the hood of a revving LS 400.

In 1989, after an extended development process involving 60 designers, 24 engineering teams, 1,400 engineers, 2,300 technicians, 220 support workers, around 450 prototypes, and over $1 billion in costs, the F1 project was completed. The resulting flagship, the Lexus LS 400, had a unique design, sharing no major elements with previous Toyota vehicles, with a new 4.0 L V8 gasoline engine and rear-wheel drive.[31][32] Testing locations for the LS 400 included the German autobahn.

The LS 400 debuted in January 1989 at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. The following September, Lexus vehicles officially went on sale at a network of 81 new Lexus dealerships across the U.S. The LS 400 was sold along with a smaller sibling, the Toyota Camry-based ES 250. The launch of Lexus was heralded by a multi-million dollar advertising campaign in both television and print media. Lexus subsequently began exports to the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Canada, and Australia starting in 1990.

The LS 400 was widely praised for its silence, well-appointed and ergonomic interior, engine performance, build quality, aerodynamics, fuel economy, and value, though it was criticized by some automobile columnists for anonymous styling and a suspension regarded as too compromising of handling for ride comfort. The LS 400 debuted at $38,000 in the U.S. (in some markets, it was priced against mid-sized six cylinder Mercedes-Benz and BMW models), and was rated by Car and Driver magazine as better than both the $63,000 Mercedes-Benz 420 SEL and the $55,000 BMW 735i in terms of ride, handling and performance. It was generally regarded as a major shock to the European marques; BMW and Mercedes-Benz's U.S. sales figures dropped 29% and 19%, respectively, with the then-BMW chairman Eberhard von Kuenheim accusing Lexus of dumping in that market.The LS 400 also won several major motoring awards when released.

In 1990, during its first full-year of sales, Lexus sold 63,594 LS 400 and ES 250 sedans in the U.S., the vast majority being of the LS model. By 1991, sales had increased to 71,206 cars in the U.S. market, making Lexus the top-selling luxury import in the U.S. That same year, Lexus earned first place in J.D. Power’s studies on initial vehicle quality, customer satisfaction, and sales satisfaction.[44]

Growth and expansion

The Lexus RX 400h, the first hybrid version of Lexus' best-selling vehicle.

Lexus introduced two new models in June and September 1991, the SC 400 coupe and ES 300 sedan. The SC 400 (designed in tandem with the Japanese market Toyota Soarer) shared the LS 400’s V8 engine and rear-wheel drive design, while the ES 300 replaced the ES 250 and became Lexus’ best-selling sedan.The GS series came to America in 1993, based on the Toyota Aristo, which had sold for two years prior in Japan. In 1994, Lexus introduced the second generation LS 400, a complete redesign of the flagship model.

In 1996, Lexus added its first luxury sport utility vehicle, the LX 450. Two years later, Lexus debuted the first luxury crossover SUV, the RX 300, the second generation of the GS 300/GS 400 sedans and a new entry-level sedan, the IS 300. The RX quickly became Lexus' best-selling model, displacing the ES, the previous best-seller. In 1999, Lexus recorded its one-millionth vehicle produced for the U.S. market, and ranked as the top-selling luxury automobile make in the United States overall. In 2001, Lexus introduced its first convertible, the SC 430, and the third generation LS 430.

In 2005, Lexus expanded its lineup with the debut of the world’s first hybrid luxury SUV, the RX 400h.[4][50] The vehicle's Lexus Hybrid Drive system combined gas and electric motors for increased power, improved fuel efficiency, and lower emissions relative to traditional, gas-powered equivalents. In 2006, Lexus unveiled the GS 450h, a performance hybrid sedan with a V6 gas-electric powertrain and rear-wheel drive.

Global development

2007 sales and production
Global vehicle sales Units
Asia 81,000
Europe 54,000
North America 342,000
Other regions 41,000
Total 518,000
U.S. vehicle sales Units
Passenger vehicles 200,334
Sport utility vehicles 128,843
Total 329,177
Vehicle production Units
Japan production 414,400
Canada production 78,070
Total 492,470

In 2005, Lexus completed a full organizational separation from parent company Toyota, with dedicated Lexus design, engineering, training, and manufacturing centers working exclusively for the luxury division. This effort coincided with the launch of Lexus in its home market of Japan, and an expanded global launch of the brand in major world markets. Executives aimed to grow Lexus sales outside of the U.S. (which comprised approximately 63.5% of global Lexus sales in 2007). The next generation IS, GS, and LS sedans were subsequently designed as "global models" for worldwide markets.Lexus launched in China in 2005, Malaysia in 2006, Indonesia in 2007, and the Philippines in 2008. By 2007, Lexus was sold in 57 countries around the world.

Total worldwide Lexus sales reached 500,000 vehicles in 2007. That year, the largest Lexus sales markets, in order of size, were the U.S., Japan, U.K., China, Canada, and Russia.In 2008, sales growth was limited by a weakened luxury car market in major world regions, including North America, Asia, and Europe.


Current models

The ES.

The GS.

Production model history

  • IS: compact RWD/AWD
    • 2000 IS 200/IS 300
    • 2006 IS 250/IS 250 AWD/IS 350/IS 220d
    • 2008 IS F
    • 2010 IS 250C/IS 350C
  • ES: mid-size FWD
    • 1990 ES 250
    • 1992 ES 300
    • 1997 ES 300
    • 2003 ES 330
    • 2007 ES 350

Shown from left to right: The 2007 LX, GX, and RX.

The LS and other Lexus vehicles on showroom display.

Concept vehicles

The Lexus LF-A concept.

The Lexus LF-S concept.

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