It’s August 1983 in Japan, in a few sentences Toyota’s company chairman lays out a plan that will change Toyota and the entire luxury market forever. In 1983 The brand was created around the same time as Japanese rivals Nissan and Honda developed their Infiniti and Acura premium brands. The Japanese government imposed voluntary export restraints for the U.S. market, so it was more profitable for Japanese automakers to export more expensive cars to the U.S.
Japan’s currency was getting weaker every year too, Ichiro Suzuki some guy at Toyota had really good brains, he thought that making a luxury car for Toyota would be cool and the Germans who were apparently the leaders in luxury cars won’t suspect Toyota, because come on its Toyota after all. So some of you might be wondering that I typed that Japenese currency was getting weaker and for Toyota to build a new car it was going to be really expensive, but it was Yen the currency of Japan that could actually make this work. Making a new brand on a weaker economy and selling it in a place like USA, because the USA had a relatively better economy, so they could sell it at a lower price than their competitors and still make profit. The German’s money was strong and for them to build a car and sell it would cost too much and they would have not much of a profit while doing so.
So Toyota named the project F1 and they obsessively analyzed Americans what they bought what they shot what luxury meant to them. They had to build a car that would fit the American luxury lifestyle, so they would go to the place where there was no compromise for luxury, that is Calfornia, so they rented a house in Laguna beach and observed what people they were trying to win over. They needed more power for their car and spend over 400 million dollars developing a new engine. After a lot of testing of the car in a variety of different places, they were finally ready to launch the car. But there was this one problem no one would buy a luxury car from Toyota cause it’s Toyota so they decided that this will be sold under a brand new name. So they come up with some 200 names and out of which 5 were selected. I can’t remember the other 4 but they chose Lexus.
Lexus LS 400
The first Lexus was the LS400 which is the reason why Lexus exists now. The car was a huge hit which was due to its lower pricing from its competitors and almost had better features than the competition. The sales were off the chart and this car gave BMW and Mercedes a run for their money. Balance was a 1989 television advertisement for the Lexus LS 400, which also introduced the luxury car make Lexus to American television audiences. The advertisement received several awards and was emulated by later versions. The advertisement showed the Lexus LS 400 on rollers, with a set of champagne glasses stacked on its hood. The LS400 engine and drivetrain were required to quickly accelerate from stop and shift through all the gears to reach the equivalent top speed of over 145 mi (233 km) per hour. Despite the quick shifts and the fast speed, the LS 400 engine produces no vibrations to upset the champagne glass pyramid, and not one drop of liquid is spilled. The narration reads, “After years of intense work, Lexus is ready to celebrate…because even at the equivalent of 145 miles per hour, the Lexus LS 400 is designed to stir the soul…and not much else.”
So this is how with the help of Ichiro Suzuki who was a really clever man, with a really good plan, some really good engineering and an amazing marketing campaign Lexus had a breakthrough which the critics found hard to believe, Toyota a Japanese car company produced a luxury car as good as it’s German competitors for a way lower price. This car was so affordable that BMW accused of selling it at lower than cost because they did’nt believe Toyota was making any profit. The Balance ad also contributed to its success. I thought that Lexus was another brand but it was not that way and launching a new brand is not exactly an easy thing and Acura and Infiniti which are similar to Lexus which are part of Honda and Nissan still have trouble figuring out where they fit in but Lexus was a huge hit and it all started with the LS 400.