It was more than a philosophical question for Toyota Motor because of the money involved. The company, while comfortably in the black, couldn’t afford to pull off the wrong vanity project. But some argued it could lose more by staying out of the luxury market than by launching when its most loyal customers, the baby boomers, were entering their peak earning years and would soon be looking to buy more expensive cars. Toyota Motor wanted a high-end product line to prevent these loyal customers from switching to other brands. The idea was to build a golden bridge between today’s compact car buyers and tomorrow’s luxury car buyers. In addition, it also needed to safeguard its revenue in an era of increased barriers to American imports, keep up with its Japanese rivals who were planning their own luxury lines, and keep its engineers motivated by new challenges.
At home, he sold the majestic Century, a one-car boat with a 5.0-liter V-12 engine, used to drive Japanese CEOs and cabinet ministers through the busy streets of Tokyo. The often empty front passenger seat in this and other Japanese luxury cars was built with a removable cushion so that the rear seat passenger could stretch their legs to the front seat. But for the equivalent of $ 125,000, the car was deemed too expensive to compete in the luxury mass market in the U.S. Additionally, Toyota Motor needed to update its export lineup with a car-lover’s car designed primarily for be driven by your vehicle. owner, not a stately limousine to drive.
Most significantly, Toyota Motor saw an opportunity. Today’s high-end vehicle manufacturers had risen up and exceeded the needs of the new age of car buyers. Therefore, Eiji Toyoda presented the strategy to penetrate towards the high-end market. Six years, along with 50 percent of a billion dollars later, the initial Lexus was born. For Toyoda, it was not a matter of cost, just a matter of time. In his words: “For us, this was not only a tremendous challenge and a dream to fulfill, but also an inevitable decision.” Yet even the most enthusiastic proponents of a Japanese luxury car program in the early 1980s could hardly imagine what Toyota Motor would unleash on unsuspecting rivals a decade later.
The company’s luxury division, the Lexus brand, has grown from an afterthought for auto enthusiasts to become America’s leading luxury brand. It usurped Cadillac for that title in 2000 and has held it ever since. In its debut year in 1989, sales of the brand’s two untested models, the flagship LS and entry-level ES sedan, totaled just 16,302 cars. Two years later it became the best-selling luxury import in the US and added a third model, the SC coupe. Today, just over two decades since the brand’s debut, millions of Lexus L vehicles are driven on America’s roads, a testament not only to the brand’s popularity, but also to the durability of its cars. In fact, it’s not uncommon to see a 1990 LS 400 or ES 300 model. Today, Lexus has expanded from the first two pioneer models to an industry-leading fleet of nearly a dozen different cars and SUBs, three of which are which have been added in the last two years.