Lexus is considered by many in the past two years as the class leading performer in the executive and business class saloon market. It is the division of luxury vehicles in the Japanese car makers Toyota. It has considerably high sales in Europe and record braking sales over in the US where sales have increased
The Lexus had a mixed start to life and it is unclear how exactly Lexus came about. In 1983 however the Chairman of Toyota Eiji Toyoda organised a meeting of top secrecy with the company executives. On record he apparently posed a question to the executives saying whether they could create a luxury car that could challenge the world's best car makers such as Mercedes and BMW's. This secret project was then called the F1 project after the word flagship and 'Prototype 1'. This project was then revealed as the Lexus LS400 and it was aimed to extend the luxury car market in Toyotas product range.
This followed in 1986 when Lexus asked a leading Japanese advertising agency to advertise Lexus's new car. Names were chucked around for the new car such as Verone and Alexis. But later on in the advertisement stage this name was then morphed to Lexus. Many factors contributed to the naming of the brand. For example many people suspected it derived from the word 'luxury' but it was actually from the exportation of the car to the US. This formed LEXUS, from the words Luxury export and the United States.
After advertising of the new car that was going to be launched Toyota finally decided to enter the car into production. It appeared In North America at the 1989 Detroit motor show with mixed results. The following year Lexus decided to release the car into the US market with 81 dealerships around North America. Over 450 prototypes were created at a cost of $1 billion and had vigorous testing including a trip down the German Autobahn. When it was released it was praised widely for its silent ride and build quality. Lexus were so proud of how smooth their new V8 engine was that they did an advert balancing champagne glasses on the bonnet of an accelerating LS400. It was direct competition for the European market being priced between the prices of the Mercedes e class and the BMW 5 series. When it was released the car won many awards despite having some complaints of ride handling and in the first year on sale the Lexus sold 63,594 LS400's.
In the next two years Lexus expanded the range of vehicles releasing the SC400 and ES300 sedans. The new SC400 shared the V8 from the LS400 and was an immediate success. On the other hand the ES300 became Lexus's best selling sedan in the United States this sparked the revolution of Lexus in the US of being one of the most recommended and best car makers. In the next couple of years Lexus had plans to release their first SUV called the LX series. In 1996 this became a reality when Lexus released their newLX450 and the SUV/estate car the RX300. Following the sales in the next couple of years the RX became Lexus's best selling car overtaking the achievement of the ES series. This then encouraged the landmark of sales at Lexus and in 1999 Lexus dispatched their 1 millionth vehicle to be sold in the United States.
The latest real concept change in Lexus is the introduction of a sports coupe. The SC430 was a 2 seater coupe convertible that used the 4.3 litre V8 engine. It gained mixed reviews from the public for its strange looks and road handling. They claimed it was neither sporty nor good to look at, its rivals the Mercedes SLK and the BMW Z4 easily outsold it. The biggest leap in Lexus's history was in 2005 when they pioneered the very first hybrid drive car. It was the RX400 SUV and was stated to decrease fuel emissions and gases as well as improving fuel efficiency and power. Using both gas and electric motors coupled to the petrol engine was a huge success world wide with the increase of awareness of global warming and the environment.
Car expert Catherine Harvey talks to luxury vehicle expert James Parker about how Lexus have come as far as they have today.