According to insiders, the Lexus concept first appeared when Eiji Toyoda, the founder of Toyota, gathered a group of his finest engineers (1983) and challenged them to create “the world’s finest car.” The project was nicknamed “Flagship One” and the 6 years later it came to fruition as the Lexus LS 400. Since Toyota had established a strong foothold in the US market, it was a natural progression to establish a separate luxury brand, which it did in 1989.
Involving more than $1 billion in costs, the first-ever Lexus vehicle, the Lexus LS 400, was introduced in early 1989. It was praised widely,and according to Atlantic Lexus of East Farmingdale, NY, went on to win numerous major motoring awards from many renowned publications. The sales of the Lexus 400 were so strong that sales of Mercedes-Benz and BMW’s in the US, dropped by 29% and 19% respectively.
Thanks to a strong figure of63,594 sales (in 1989,) Lexus began exports to Australia, the UK, Switzerland and Canada just one year later. In 1990, the SC 400, Lexus’s first sports coupe was launched, followed by the 2nd generation ES 200 sedan, which became the brand’s top selling car.
GS 300 and LS 400
In 1993, a mid-sized sport sedan, the GS 300 was launched. That same year, a certified pre-owned program was also debuted by Lexus, making it one of the first marques to offer such a program. In 1994, a complete redesign of Lexus’s flagship model, the 2nd generation LS 400 was made available.
LX 450, ES 300 and RX300
The LX 450, Lexus’s first sport utility vehicle debuted in 1996 and this was followed by their 3rdgeneration sedan, the ES 300. Its first luxury crossover SUV, named the RX 300, as well as 2nd generation sedans, the GS 300 and GS 400, in 1998. After the success of the RX 300, Lexus launched international sales in the same year. Lexus sold its millionth vehicle in the US market, the next year in 1999.
IS 300, IS 400, SC 430 and LS430
In 2000, a series of entry-level sports sedans, the IS 300 and IS 400models were introduced, and the marque’s first convertible, the SC 430, debuted a year later. Lexus’s hot run continued in the following years as well, as it introduced the LS 430 in 2003.
A Separate Company
The two-millionth vehicle of the company in the US was sold in 2004. Just a year later it was decided that Lexus needed to be its own brand and they formally separated from the parent company, Toyota.
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In 2005, Lexus became the top-selling import in Taiwan, North Korea, Australia and the Middle East. In 2006, the brand was offered in South Africa and Malaysia. There were also launches in Indonesia, Chile and the Philippines in 2007, 2008 and 2009 respectively.
In 2011, sales of Lexus’s hybrid hatchback, the CT200h, started in Europe and other markets. However, in March 2011, the earthquake and tsunami in Japan hindered Lexus’s production which had a dramatic effect on sales.
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Today, Lexus is sold in dozens of countries around the world. In 2009, Lexus was ranked as the seventh-largest brand in Japan based on market value, revenue, and earnings. According to studies, Lexus has one of the highest customer retention rates in the automotive industry.