Lexus is the luxury car division of the Toyota Motor Corporation. The Lexus emerged from a challenged issued by the founder Eiji Toyoda to create the world’s best car from a converted sedan. This launched the “convert project” in 1983 that was nicknamed “Flagship One.” The first finished product for the Flagship One project came in 1989 and it was known as the Lexus LS 400. The main aim for the production of this car as to diversify Toyota’s line. The Lexus created an upmarket option that Toyota could offer to new and existing customers.
Although the Lexus was first introduced in 1989, it wasn’t until 2005 that the brand would make its way to the global vehicle market.
Lexus 1989 to 2000
Following an extensive development project that involved numerous designers, technicians, engineers, support worker and prototypes as well as a total of $1 billion in costs, the first ever Lexus vehicle was introduced to the world in January 1989. The new Lexus received praise from all quarters, but was also largely criticized by some of the automobile columnists.
The Lexus LS 400 opened very well in the industry even winning numerous awards from major renowned publications including the Wheels Magazine and the Automobile Magazine. Lexus sales even saw a significant adverse effect on the sales of Mercedes Benz and BMW models in the US, where sales figures dropped by 29% and 19% respectively.
Lexus would very quickly establish a brand that had customer loyalty almost instantly thanks to a recall of 8,000 models. The recall as based on complaints by only two customers but the quick response was applauded by the motoring industry as a whole. It also established a good reputation for Lexus in terms of good customer service.
In 1990, Lexus began exporting vehicles in the UK, Switzerland, Canada and Australia bolstered by the successful sale of over 63,549 vehicles in the first year. A year later, in 1991, the, SC 400, the brand’s first sports coupe was launched. It was then quickly followed by the launch of the 2nd generation of the ES 200 Sedan which would quickly become the brand’s top selling car.
In 1993, Lexus launched the mid-sized sports sedan GS 300 which was priced just below the LS 400. That same year, the brand launched a certified pre-owner program, the first brand to do so. A year later, the brand embarked on a complete redesign of its flagship model and the LS 400 2nd generation was launched into the market. In 1995, however, operations were threatened and operations halted after the US proposed tariffs on upscale Japanese models, including the Lexus.
The brand did not however falter and in 1996, launched the first Lexus SUV, the LX 450, quickly followed by the 3rd generation sedan, ES 300. The RX 300 as well as the 2nd generation sedans, GS 300 and GS 400 would also be produced before 1998. In 1998, Lexus would officially enter the Brazil market.
Lexus 2000 to Present Day
Lexus introduced a series of entry level sedans that they named the IS line in 2000. The brand’s first convertible, the SC 430 entered the market the following year. In subsequent years, the brand would see the introduction of two mid-sized SUVs; the SC 430 and the LS 430 in 2002 and 2003 respectively.
In 2004, Lexus formally split from its parent company Toyota after selling its two-millionth vehicle in the United States. Towards the end of that year, Lexus entered the Japanese market and a series of the brand’s new generation models were made available to Japanese customers. At first sales were slow, but they significantly improved by the end of the year thanks to an expanded lineup.
A string of successful sales would see the company safely enter the Taiwan and North Korea markets, making it one of the top-selling brands in those markets in a very short-time. The brand was officially launched in South Africa and Malaysia in 2006 and expanded to Latin America and the Philippines by 2009.In 2011, Lexus launched the hybrid hatchback CT 200h. The 2011 earthquake and subsequent Tsunami affected Lexus’s production.
Whatever model of the iconic Lexus brand you have, we have a number plate to suit.