History of Lexus
History of Lexus
Posted on December 15, 2015
History of Lexus
It may come as some surprise that well-recognized Lexus brand came about almost purely as a result of an attempt to off-set the United States market. What do we mean by that? Simple – in the early 1980s, growing concerned with the disproportionate number of imports being sold as opposed to domestic products, the United States placed a restriction on the amount of vehicles that would be allowed through to enter the market.
Known as a voluntary export restraint (VER), the policy was enforced with the expectation that without foreign vehicles opportunities that Americans would be more willing to explore locally-made vehicles. As with many such attempts to control a highly-profitable industry, the results were not in line with the vision behind it. Check out our selection of Lexus vehicles today at Basant Motors!
So What Happened?
The voluntary export restraint enforced a limitation on the quantity of vehicles allowed to be imported, in 1981 the number was placed at 1.68 million cars with the intention of seeing an end to the process within three years.
Yet, three years passed and when it came to expire the government, recognizing a trade deficit with Japan extended the conditions with a slight increase on the cap. This would continue until 1994 when it was finally lifted entirely.
Speculations suggest that the reason the voluntary export restraint was met with such poor results, for the United States, that is, comes down to the fact that shortly into the process Japanese firms responded by simply establishing themselves within the United States itself.
And so – Lexus was Born!
In 1983, the year prior to when the original conditions of the voluntary export restraint was meant to come to an end, Toyota chairman Eiji Toyoda issues a challenge to build the world’s best car. This project was called code-name F1, or “Flagship One” and would go on to develop the Lexus LS 400 with the intention to create a premium level Toyota vehicle. In part, this was how automakers were able to navigate the limitations placed on them by the voluntary export restraint.
Rather than focus on quantity of high quality but low cost vehicles, manufacturers were going to bring expensive and high-quality models to the world.
The push to found Lexus came on the heels of Honda’s launch of their Acura brand in 1986. Shortly after establishing the Acura name, Nissan followed the trend and created the Infiniti premium brand. Concurrently as the other major brands were branching out into the luxury market, Toyota had partnered with Saatchi & Saatchi to create a brand image.
Where Does the Name Come From?
There are a number of theories that circulate regarding the name, the most popular goes on to say that the test name, “Alexis” was a frontrunner but carried with it some complicated references at the time so the first letter was omitted and the “i” came to be replaced with a “u”, forming the word Lexus.
This seems simple enough, however, others have supported a similar claim that it’s the result of a creative portmanteau combining the words “luxury” and “elegance”.
Finally, a humorous theory suggests that, due to the limitations on the number of vehicles allowed to be imported from Japan, the name is in fact an acronym for “Luxury Exports to the United States.” Although, according to interviews with the team behind the branding none of these are accurate and the name has no more meaning than it sounds luxurious and offers a technological-related feeling.
Launching in 1989 – the Lexus LS 400
With the completion of Toyota's original challenge to create a perfect car the F1 Project came to fruition with the thanks to 1,400 engineers over 24 teams, 2,300 technicians, 60 designers, 220 support workers, and in the vicinity of 450 prototypes, totally over US$1 billion.
The Lexus LS 400 was a flagship for quality that shared no noticeable features with any previous Toyota models, and enjoying its own 4.0L V8 gasoline engine created with rear-wheel drive. It debuted at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
At the same time, Lexus was establishing dealerships across the country, and by September the following year there were 81 dealerships in the United States alone. An immediate and resounding success, the Lexus brand earned an even better rating than the Mercedes-Benz and BMW models from the same year.
Really, the brand has never ceased to impress drivers with consistent luxury and premium features, showcased by the fact that only 10 years after the brand launch it had already surpassed one million vehicle sales in the U.S. market alone.
To learn more about the Lexus brand or to drive one of these amazing machines, come down to Basant Motors and our team will be glad to assist you!