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Lexus
Lexus is Japanese car maker Toyota Motor Corporation's brand name for its luxury automobile division. Lexus vehicles are sold in North America, the Middle East, Europe, Africa, Latin America, Asia and Oceania; in the United States, Lexus is the highest-selling brand of luxury cars. Until 2005, Lexus vehicles were sold under the Toyota marque in Japan, at which point the Lexus marque was introduced.
Since its debut in 1989, Lexus has developed a reputation for the reliability of its vehicles and the quality of its customer service. In 2006, consumer ratings firm J.D. Power named Lexus the most reliable brand in the U.S. based on its Vehicle Dependability Survey, a measure of over 47,000 vehicle owners and the problems they experienced in the first three years of vehicle ownership. It was the twelfth consecutive year that Lexus achieved this top rating. That same year, Consumer Reports also named Lexus the most reliable brand in its Annual Car Reliability Survey of over one million vehicles nationwide. Additionally, Lexus ranks highly on surveys of dealership service experience. The British Top Gear and Auto Express satisfaction surveys have had Lexus at the top of the surveys for most of the past fifteen years, with reliability as one of the main selling points of Lexus around the world.
From its inception, the motto of Lexus has been "The Relentless Pursuit of Perfection." In 2003, the Lexus Division in the U.S. altered its motto to "The Passionate Pursuit of Perfection." Since fall 2006, the worldwide Lexus motto is simply "The Pursuit of Perfection."
History
In 1983, Toyota Chairman Eiji Toyoda summoned a secret meeting of company executives, to whom he posed the question, "Can we create a luxury vehicle to challenge the world's best?" This question prompted Toyota to embark on a top-secret project, codenamed F1 ("Flagship" and "No. 1 vehicle"). The F1 project, which eventually became known as the Lexus LS 400, aimed to develop a luxury car that would expand Toyota's product line, giving it a foothold in the premium segment and offering both longtime and new customers an upmarket product. The F1 project was inspired by the success of the Toyota Supra sports car and the luxury Toyota Cressida models. Both the Supra and Cressida were rear wheel drive cars with a powerful 7M-GE/7M-GTE engine. The successful launch of the Acura marque by Honda three years prior also influenced Toyota to advance its plans for a luxury division.
Toyota researchers visited the U.S. in May 1985 to conduct focus groups and market research on luxury consumers. That summer, several F1 designers rented a home in Laguna Beach, California to observe the lifestyles and tastes of American upper-class consumers. Toyota's market research concluded that a separate brand and sales channel was needed to market its new luxury flagship, and plans were made to develop a new network of dealerships in the U.S and in other markets.
In 1989, after an extended development process involving 60 designers, 24 engineering teams, 1,400 engineers, 2,300 technicians, 220 support workers, around 450 prototypes, and over $1 billion in costs, the F1 project was completed. The resulting flagship, the Lexus LS 400, had a unique design, sharing no major elements with previous Toyota vehicles, with a new 4.0 L V8 engine and rear-wheel drive.
The LS 400 debuted in January 1989 at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. The following September, Lexus vehicles officially went on sale at a network of 73 new Lexus dealerships across the U.S. The LS 400 was sold along with a smaller sibling, the Toyota Camry-based ES 250. The launch of Lexus was heralded by a multi-million dollar advertising campaign in both television and print media. Lexus subsequently launched in the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Canada, and Australia in 1990.
The LS 400 was widely praised for its silence, well-appointed and ergonomic interior, fine engine performance, outstanding build quality, aerodynamics, fuel economy, and value. (In some markets, it was priced against mid-sized six cylinder Mercedes-Benz and BMW models, while offering size, performance, and quality comparable to their full-size cars). It was generally regarded as a major shock to the European marques, but was criticized by automobile columnists for anonymous styling and a suspension regarded as too compromising of handling for ride comfort. Nonetheless, the LS 400 won several major motoring awards when released.
In 1990, during its first full-year of sales, Lexus sold 63,594 LS 400 and ES 250 sedans in the U.S., the vast majority being of the LS model. By 1991, sales had increased to 71,206 cars in the U.S. market, making Lexus the top-selling luxury import in the U.S. That same year, Lexus earned first place in J.D. Power's studies on initial vehicle quality, customer satisfaction, and sales satisfaction. Lexus also introduced two new models in 1991, the SC 400 coupe and ES 300 sedan. The SC 400 (based on Japanese Domestic Market Toyota Soarer) shared the LS 400's V8 engine and rear-wheel drive design, while the ES 300 replaced the ES 250 and became Lexus' best-selling sedan. In 1996, Lexus introduced its first luxury sport utility vehicle, the LX 450.
Lexus today
Lexus has grown to become the top-selling luxury brand in the United States. In 2005, Lexus sold 302,895 vehicles in the U.S., more than any other luxury competitor, foreign or domestic. In terms of volume, Lexus has been the number one selling luxury marque in the U.S. for the past six years. Lexus vehicles are now available in over forty countries across the Americas, Europe, Asia, and Oceania, and the Lexus marque ranks as the fourth-largest luxury brand in the world by volume. The marque was finally introduced to the Japanese market on July 26, 2005. The compact IS 250/IS 350, convertible SC 430, and midsize GS 350/GS 430 became available in Japan in the 2006 model year.
The Lexus flagship sedan has been upgraded in four successive generations and premiered in 2006 as the all-new LS Series. This latest generation of the LS retains many of the LS 400's noteworthy attributes, but now offers both standard (LS 460) and long wheelbase (LS 460 L) versions, additional room, numerous options, and more luxury features than available on the original model. The LS Series offers features never before seen in luxury vehicles, such as an eight-speed automatic transmission, automatic parallel/reverse parking, real-time traffic guidance with dynamic rerouting, and four-zone climate control with infrared body temperature sensors.
Lexus' full vehicle lineup now includes the IS, ES, GS, and LS series of sedans, the SC convertible coupe, and the RX, GX, and LX ranges of luxury sport utility vehicles. The IS and ES sedans are positioned towards the entry-luxury consumer, with the IS performance sedans catering to the luxury sport segment, and the larger front wheel drive ES catering to the comfort luxury segment. The GS performance sedans are focused on the mid-size luxury sport sedan market. Lexus' luxury utility vehicle lineup progresses in size with the RX crossover SUV, mid-size GX, and full-size LX models. Designed for the high-end luxury consumer, the convertible SC and the flagship LS sedans complete the Lexus model range.
Lexus directly competes with such luxury brands as Europe's Audi, BMW, Jaguar, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, Saab, and Volvo; the U.S.' Cadillac and Lincoln, and Japanese brands Acura, and Infiniti.
Recently, Lexus has been a pioneer in the field of hybrid vehicles. In 2005, Lexus introduced the world's first hybrid luxury SUV, the RX 400h. This vehicle combined gas and electric motors for increased power, improved fuel efficiency, and lower emissions relative to traditional, gas-powered equivalents. In 2006, Lexus unveiled the GS 450h, a performance hybrid sedan. In 2007, Lexus is expected to release the LS 600h and LS 600h L hybrid versions of its LS flagship series. The LS hybrids are expected to offer V12 performance with the fuel economy of conventional V6 engines. The LS 600h L will be offered in the U.S. and the 600h will be offered in Japan and other countries. Lexus terms the powertrain setup in its RX 400h, GS 450h, and LS 600h/LS 600h L vehicles as Lexus Hybrid Drive, with each hybrid model being the halo vehicle in their respective lineups.
Lexus models
* IS - compact RWD/AWD
o 2006 IS 250/IS250 AWD/IS 350/IS 220d
* ES - midsize FWD
o 2007 ES 350
* GS - midsize RWD/AWD
o 2006 GS 300/GS 300 AWD/GS 430/GS 450h
* LS - full-size RWD
o 2006 LS 460/LS 460 L
* SC - coupe/coupe convertible RWD
o 2006 SC 430
* RX - crossover SUV
o 2006 RX 350/RX 400h
* GX - midsize SUV
o 2006 GX 470
* LX - large SUV
o 2006 LX 470
* IS - compact RWD/AWD
o 2000 IS 200/IS 300
o 2006 IS 250/IS250 AWD/IS 350/IS 220d
o 2008 IS F
* ES - midsize FWD
o 1990 ES 250
o 1992 ES 300
o 1996 ES 300
o 2000 ES 300
o 2003 ES 330
o 2007 ES 350
* GS - midsize RWD/AWD
o 1993 GS 300
o 1998 GS 300/GS 400
o 2001 GS 430
o 2006 GS 300/GS 300 AWD/GS 430/GS 450h
* LS - full-size RWD
o 1990 LS 400
o 2001 LS 430
o 2006 LS 460/LS 460 L
o 2007 LS 600h/LS 600hL (Hybrid)
* SC - coupe/coupe convertible RWD
o 1992 SC 300/SC 400
o 2002 SC 430
o 2008 SC 460
* RX - crossover SUV
o 1998 RX 300
o 2003 RX 300/RX 330
o 2006 RX 400h - hybrid crossover SUV
* GX - midsize SUV
o 2003 GX 470
o 2008 GX 570
* LX - large SUV
o 1997 LX 450
o 1999 LX 470
o 2008 LX 570
* JX - midsize crossover SUV
o 2007 JX 430 / 450h
* MCX - compact crossover SUV
o 2008 MCX 350
* Lexus LF-A - sports car
o 2009 LF-A
Concept vehicles
* LF series concepts
o 2003 HPX/LF-X - crossover
o 2003 LF-S - luxury sedan
o 2004 LF-C - convertible
o 2005 LF-A - sports coupe
o 2006 LF-Sh - hybrid luxury sedan
o 1994 Italdesign Lexus Landau - hatchback
o 1997 Lexus SLV - sport luxury vehicle
o 1997 Lexus HPS - sports sedan
o 2003 Lexus IS 430 - sports sedan