Lexus Company – Do you know what that means ????

Lexus is the luxury vehicle division of Japanese automaker Toyota Motor Corporation. First introduced in the United States, where Lexus has become the highest-selling make of luxury cars, today Lexus brand name vehicles are available throughout the world. In 2005, the Lexus marque launched in Japan, marking the continued global expansion of the luxury division.

Since its debut in 1989, Lexus has developed a reputation for the luxury and reliability of its vehicles, along with the quality of its customer service. In 2007, consumer ratings firm J.D. Power and Associates named Lexus the most reliable brand in the U.S. based on its Vehicle Dependability Survey, a measure of over 53,000 vehicle owners and the problems they experienced in the first three years of vehicle ownership. It was the thirteenth consecutive year that Lexus achieved this top rating. In recent years, Consumer Reports has also named Lexus among the top five most reliable brands in its Annual Car Reliability Surveys 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 their ratings since the entry of the luxury division, with reliability and quality among the main selling points of Lexus around the world.

Lexus’ slogan is The Pursuit of Perfection.

History

The origins of Lexus

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.[4] The F1 project was inspired by the success of the Toyota Supra sports car and the luxury Toyota Cressida models.[5] 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. Around this same time, Nissan would unveil plans to create its own luxury division, Infiniti, while Mazda and Mitsubishi considered developing luxury flagships. Toyota would serve as the parent company with Lexus being a separate 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 present its new luxury flagship, and plans were made to develop a new network of dealerships in the U.S and in other markets.

The Lexus brand

In 1986, Toyota’s longtime advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi formed a specialized unit, Team One, to handle marketing for the new luxury brand.[5] Image consulting firm Lippincott & Margulies was hired to develop a list of 219 prospective names; Vectre, Verone, Chaparel, Calibre and Alexis were chosen as top candidates. While Alexis quickly became the front runner (possibly due to the association with the Alexis Carrington character on the popular 1980s primetime drama Dynasty) and later morphed to Lexus, the name has been attributed to the combination of the words “luxury” and “elegance.”[6] According to Toyota, the name has no specific meaning and is just meant to be pleasing and easy to remember, although Lexus in Australia claim the original name is short for Luxury Export to United States. (LExUS).

Just prior to the release of the first vehicles, database service LexisNexis obtained a temporary injunction forbidding the name Lexus from being used as they stated it might cause confusion. Upon reflection, the court lifted the injunction, deciding that there was a low likelihood of confusion between the two products.

The original Lexus slogan, developed after Team One representatives visited Lexus designers in Japan and noted their obsessive attention to detail, became “The Relentless Pursuit of Perfection.”

The Lexus logo was developed by Molly Designs and Hunter Communications. The final design for the Lexus logo featured a stylized “L” within an oval, and according to Toyota was rendered using a precise mathematical formula. The first teaser ads featuring the Lexus name and logo, designed by Team One, appeared at the Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York auto shows in 1988.

The launch of Lexus

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 gasoline 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 some 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 (designed in tandem with the Japanese 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. The GS series came to America in 1993 after being in Japan for 2 years as the Toyota Aristo. In 1996, Lexus introduced its first luxury sport utility vehicle, the LX 450. In 1998, Lexus debuted the first luxury crossover SUV, the RX 300 and the second generation of the GS 300/GS 400 sedans.

Lexus has grown to become the top-selling automotive luxury brand in the United States. In 2006, Lexus sold 322,434 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 largest automotive market for the past seven 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 car brand in the world by volume. Lexus was finally introduced to the Japanese market on July 26, 2005, ending domestic sales of Lexus-similar models under separate brands. The compact IS sedans, convertible SC, and mid-size GS sedans 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 adds both standard and long wheelbase versions (LS 460 and LS 460 L), along with greater luxury and technological appointments than previous models, including an automated parallel/reverse parking feature. The LS 460 was awarded International Car of the Year and World Car of the Year in 2007.

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 Camry based ES catering to the comfort luxury segment. The GS performance sedans are focused on the mid-size luxury sport sedan market. Lexus’ luxury SUV 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 other luxury brands, such as Audi, BMW, Jaguar, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, Saab, and Volvo in Europe, Cadillac and Lincoln in the US, and Acura and Infiniti in Japan.

Recently, Lexus has added hybrid vehicles to its lineup. 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 with a V6 gas-electric powertrain and rear-wheel drive. In 2007, Lexus launched the LS 600h and LS 600h L hybrid versions of its LS flagship series, featuring V12 power and torque with conventional V8 fuel economy and emissions. 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.

In January 2007, Lexus announced a new F-marque performance division, which would produce racing-inspired versions of its luxury performance vehicles. The first of this line, the IS-F, made its debut at the 2007 North American International Auto Show, accompanied by an exotic supercar concept, the LF-A. The Lexus F-marque line is designed to compete with the high-performance, motorsport-derived lineups of the leading European and American luxury brands. The IS-F debuted with a 5.0 liter V8 engine generating more than 400 hp (300 kW), along with numerous performance enhancements. Detailed specifications for the LF-A have yet to be released.

In the U.S. and Canada, the full Lexus model range is sold, including almost all gasoline- and hybrid-powered variants. The hybrid flagship LS 600h L is offered in the U.S. and Canada, while the LS 600h and LS 600h L are both offered in Europe, Japan, and other countries. The diesel-powered IS 220d is only available in Europe, where the ES sedan and GX/LX full-size SUVs are not sold; similar versions of the latter models are sold under the Toyota brand in Europe. In recent years, Lexus has broadened its model range internationally as part of its ongoing global expansion, with new vehicle launches in Europe and Asia.

Lexus models

* IS – entry-level luxury car RWD/AWD
o 2008 IS 250/IS 250 AWD/IS 350/IS 220d/IS-F
* ES – mid-size FWD
o 2008 ES 350
* GS – mid-size RWD/AWD
o 2008 GS 350/GS 350 AWD/GS 460/GS 450h
* LS – full-size RWD/AWD
o 2008 LS 460/LS 460 L
o 2008 LS 600h/LS 600h L
* SC – coupé/coupé convertible RWD
o 2008 SC 430
* RX – mid-size crossover SUV
o 2009 RX 350/2008 RX 400h
* GX – mid-size sport utility vehicle
o 2008 GX 470
* LX – full-size sport utility vehicle
o 2008 LX 570

Production model history

* IS – compact RWD/AWD
o 2000 IS 200/IS 300
o 2006 IS 250/IS 250 AWD/IS 350/IS 220d
o 2009 IS-F
* ES – mid-size FWD
o 1990 ES 250
o 1992 ES 300
o 1996 ES 300
o 2003 ES 330
o 2007 ES 350
* GS – mid-size 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
o 2007 GS 350/GS 350 AWD/GS 460
* LS – full-size RWD/AWD
o 1990 LS 400
o 2001 LS 430
o 2007 LS 460/LS 460 L
o 2008 LS 600h/LS 600h L
* SC – coupé/coupé convertible RWD
o 1992 SC 300/SC 400
o 2002 SC 430
* RX – mid-size crossover SUV
o 1998 RX 300
o 2003 RX 300/RX 330
o 2006 RX 400h
o 2007 RX 350
* GX – mid-size sport utility vehicle
o 2003 GX 470
* LX – full-size sport utility vehicle
o 1997 LX 450
o 1999 LX 470
o 2008 LX 570

Concept vehicles

* LF series concepts
o 2003 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 2008 LF-Xh – crossover
o 2008 LF-Ch – compact luxury hybrid
o 2008 LF-A – roadster
* Past concept vehicles
o 1994 Italdesign Lexus Landau – hatchback
o 1995 Lexus FLV – minivan
o 1997 Lexus Street Rod – roadster
o 1997 Lexus SLV – sport luxury vehicle
o 1997 Lexus HPS – sports sedan
o 2003 Lexus IS 430 – sports sedan

Design and technology

Lexus design has traditionally placed an emphasis on targeting world-class luxury vehicle standards. Key Lexus attributes, emphasized from the first Lexus LS model onward, include aerodynamics, performance, smooth ride, interior ergonomics, quiet cabins, fuel efficiency, safety, and reliability. General characteristics are summarized in the Lexus IDEAL philosophy (Impressive, Dynamic, Elegant, Advanced, and Lasting), which guides the development process of each Lexus design. Each Lexus vehicle also must fulfill over 500 specific product standards known as Lexus Musts ranging from steering wheel responsiveness to leather seat stitching. Technological innovations on Lexus vehicles include advanced safety systems, powertrain designs, and vehicle comfort, convenience, and entertainment features.

In the vehicle cabin, Lexus has incorporated touchscreen navigation system interfaces across the entire model range, eschewing knob-style rotary button systems. SmartAccess, the smartkey entry and startup system on new Lexus vehicles, senses owner proximity and responds to touch. Instrument panels feature electroluminescent Optitron gauges, first introduced on the original LS, for improved clarity. Dealer-adjusted Lexus Personalized Settings allow owners to customize operation of door locks, lighting, and other vehicle features. Lexus cabin storage compartments, cupholders, and visors open at the same speed for a harmonious effect. New features introduced on the fourth generation LS, never before seen in luxury vehicles, include the first production eight-speed automatic transmission, shiatsu and shoulder massagers, ceiling climate diffusers, and four-zone climate control with infrared body temperature sensors.

Lexus vehicles were among the first to offer surround sound premium audio systems, partnering initially with stereo firm Nakamichi and since 1998 with high-end audio purveyor Mark Levinson. The latest Lexus sound systems incorporate digital sound imaging and multiformat capabilities. Along with premium audio, Lexus designers have focused extensively on improving the quiet of their cabins, a tradition going back to the first LS 400 when sound-absorbing foam was injected into structural passages around the cabin. More recent techniques include sound-absorbing sun visors, acoustic glass windshields, and modulated power window motors. The Lexus Hybrid Drive systems used on the RX, GS, and LS hybrid models involve quiet electric motors, with the overall hybrid system tuned for increased power, while retaining environmental and efficiency performance benefits.

Safety features which have been incorporated on multiple vehicles of the Lexus lineup include the Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) and Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management (VDIM) stability/traction control systems, Emergency Steering Assist, twin-chambered passenger airbags, knee airbags, backup cameras, swivel headlights, and sonar warning systems. The Lexus Pre-Collision System (PCS) integrates multiple safety systems along with emergency avoidance and collision detection capabilities. In 2007, Lexus introduced the world’s first advanced pre-collision/safety systems with infrared and pedestrian detection capabilities, lane keep assist, facial recognition monitoring of driver attentiveness, and rear pre-collision whiplash protection.[19] The hybrid LS 600h L is the first production vehicle to use LED headlamps, with glare-reduction benefits.

As a safety precaution, Lexus GPS navigation systems feature a motion lockout when the vehicle reaches a set speed. To prevent distraction, navigation inputs are limited while in motion, while voice commands and pre-programmed buttons remain accessible. This safety feature has attracted some criticism because passengers cannot use certain functions when the vehicle is in motion. Pre-2007 models come with a hidden OEM override option which is accessible with caution.

In 2005, Lexus completed a full organizational separation from parent company Toyota, with dedicated Lexus Design, engineering, training, and manufacturing centers working exclusively for the luxury division. This effort coincided with the launch of Lexus in its home market of Japan, and an expanded global launch of Lexus in major world markets. A recent focus of the Lexus Development Center (founded in 2003) is the introduction of L-finesse, a new design philosophy for the latest generation of Lexus vehicles (see following). Related areas of focus include the incorporation of Japanese cultural motifs into new designs, and the development of future automobile technologies. The new GS, IS, and LS designs are a product of the new Lexus design and engineering centers, along with the latest LF Series concept vehicles. Separate efforts are underway to produce the Lexus F-performance division.

Lexus Japan headquarters are located in Toyota City (Aichi, Japan); in wards of Tokyo, rivals Acura (Minato, Tokyo) and Infiniti (Chūō, Tokyo) have facilities, along with Lexus (Bunkyō-ku, Tokyo). Companion Lexus design facilities are located in Southern California and the Côte d’Azur, France.

L-finesse

Lexus introduced a new comprehensive design language, known as L-finesse, with its LF Series concept cars. L-finesse first appeared on a production vehicle with the introduction of the 2006 Lexus GS model.[26] Featuring sculpted body panels and the use of repeating motifs both inside and outside the vehicle, this new design language countered criticisms that Lexus styling was too conservative for the sophisticated luxury market. According to Lexus, L-finesse embodies three essential qualities: Intriguing Elegance, Incisive Simplicity, and Seamless Anticipation. Derived from Japanese cultural motifs, these qualities refer to the sensory experience, concrete and abstract, that L-finesse is focused on creating for the luxury vehicle owner. In conceptual terms, each L-finesse design is intended to combine elegance with simplicity, while anticipating the needs of the driver and passengers. The L in L-finesse stands for “Leading Edge.”

The three essential qualities of L-finesse design are each represented by a single Japanese kanji character. Individual characters are also embodied in L-finesse design cues; for instance, the character concept of kirikaeshi is seen in the sharp angled turns of arrowhead shapes on the rear windows and cabin fittings of the new IS, GS, and LS. Design hallmarks of L-finesse vehicles further include a fastback profile, lower-set grille, and the use of both convex and concave surfaces. Since 2006, Lexus has unveiled a completely new sedan lineup with all models featuring a L-finesse design treatment, giving the latest generation of Lexus vehicles a familial resemblance.

In contrast to some earlier Lexus models, which were criticized for reserved and derivative styling (and often mistaken for understated U.S. market Japanese cars), the debut of the first L-finesse concepts were noted by several automotive analysts for introducing stylistic dynamism into Lexus designs. In automotive design analyses, L-finesse concepts were described by industry observers as adding a distinctive nature and embrace of Japanese design identity. Opinions varied for the first L-finesse production model; a design analysis for Sports Car International found that the 2006 GS looked better in person than in photos and praised its overall appearance, while a similar exam by Automobile Magazine suggested that the model was insufficiently daring, particularly in its forward styling. Later models, such as the Jaguar XF, were said to resemble elements of the 2006 GS design.

Exhibitions of L-finesse styling and artwork, including scenic, sculpture, projection, and photographic art displays along with the GS, the LF-A concept, and LS 600h, were presented in Milan, Italy in 2005, 2006, and 2007 during the Milan Design Week. The launch of the 2007 Lexus LS model in October 2006 was accompanied by special presentations at “460 Degrees” art galleries in Beverly Hills, Chicago, Miami, and New York City, and an outdoor vehicle art display at the World Financial Center in downtown Manhattan.

Many Lexus vehicles are manufactured in Toyota’s Tahara plant, a highly sophisticated, computerized manufacturing plant in Japan. In 2005, J.D. Power and Associates bestowed its Platinum award for worldwide plant quality on the Tahara plant, stating that it has the fewest defects of any manufacturing plant in the world. It was the fourth consecutive year that the Tahara plant captured this award. In 2006, J.D. Power named the Kanji (Iwate) plant, site of ES and IS model production, as its recipient of the Platinum award for worldwide plant quality.

Lexus manufacturing techniques include methods and standards of quality control that differ from Toyota models. At the Tahara plant, site of LS, GS, IS, and GX production, separate assembly lines were developed for the manufacture of Lexus vehicles. New molds and specialized manufacturing equipment were also developed for the Lexus production process; assembly equipment includes KUKA robotic welders. Lexus plant workers, typically veteran technicians, are identified via repeated performance evaluations and ranked according to skill grade; only a select group of craftspeople are eligible to work on Lexus vehicles. In addition, welding processes, body panel fit tolerances, and paint quality requirements are more stringent for Lexus models. Each production Lexus vehicle is given an extensive visual inspection for flaws, individually test-driven at high speed, and subjected to vibration tests to ensure a smooth and quiet ride.

All Lexus wood trim is genuine and procured from sustainable sources; each wood inlay in a single vehicle is selected from the same tree for a consistent appearance. Lexus engines are tested by stethoscope-equipped takumi engineers (Japanese for “master craftsmen”) to ensure optimum performance. These engineers are responsible for maintaining production standards at key points in the assembly process. Craftmanship on the latest Lexus LS model extends to twice-buffed cabin leather and a twice hand-sanded paint finish,[44] a rare treatment for production vehicles.

The North American-market RX 350 (since the 2004 model year) is produced in the city of Cambridge, in Ontario, Canada, and is the first Lexus plant located outside of Japan. Lexus vehicles are produced at the Araco, Kanji (Iwate), Kanji (Kanto Jidosha), Katashiki, Kyushu, and Tahara plants in Japan.

Service

Lexus has become known for efforts to project a luxury image even with service provided after the sale. The waiting areas in the service departments are complete with such amenities as a refreshment bar, business center that is soundproofed and stocked with computers and a fax machine, and often an accessories/gift shop. Other amenities can include a children’s play area, indoor putting green, and other recreational services. Recently, several Lexus dealerships have added on-site cafes and designer shops.

Lexus dealerships typically feature a service bay that is lined with large picture windows, allowing customers to watch the servicing of their vehicle. Dealership services often include complimentary loaner cars, free car washes, and convenience shuttles. At the conclusion of each service appointment, Lexus owners may receive a followup survey, either in mail, online, or via telephone, and be asked to rate their recent service experience. To improve customer service, some Lexus dealerships have sent their employees to train at establishments known for their attentiveness and hospitality, such as Nordstrom department stores and Ritz-Carlton hotels. Lexus has also recently added an additional owners’ privilege, the use of exclusive parking lots at major sporting arenas, entertainment events, and shopping malls, reserved only for Lexus vehicles.

In 2007, Lexus scored the top position for the sixth consecutive year in the Auto Express survey on service satisfaction, and in 2006 Lexus ranked first for the eleventh time in the J.D. Power Customer Service Index, an annual study involving over 79,000 U.S. owners and dealership experience. From 2002 through 2005, Lexus also came first in the Top Gear Survey, “the UK’s biggest independent car satisfaction survey” with over 76,000 respondents. In 2006, the Luxury Institute, New York, rated Lexus #1 in Customer Experience among luxury automobile brands based on its survey of over 2,100 high-income households. On the strength of its customer service standards and high product satisfaction, Lexus enjoys one of the highest customer loyalty rates in the industry.

Lexus’ customer service efforts date from the outset with the “Lexus Covenant,” its founding promise which states that “Lexus will treat each customer as we would a guest in our home.” This commitment was put to an early test in 1989 when new LS 400 models were voluntarily recalled due to a parts issue; cars were picked up from home for no extra charge, and in many cases were returned having been washed for the inconvenience.

In the U.S., Lexus offers a 4-year or 50,000-mile (80,000 km) basic warranty, by default. The powertrain warranty is a 6-year or 70,000-mile (110,000 km) coverage plan. Corrosion protection is a 6-year warranty as well. Lexus’ Certified Pre-Owned program, among the first in the automotive industry (begun in November 1993), features a 161-point inspection of pre-owned vehicles, a 3-year or 100,000-mile (160,000 km) limited warranty, and is now available in multiple countries.

In 2005, Lexus Financial Savings Bank, in conjunction with US Bank, launched a Lexus Pursuits Visa Card, with points earned at dealerships and elsewhere going toward vehicle and service rewards. An official owners publication, Lexus Magazine, is issued quarterly featuring automotive and lifestyle articles.

Motorsport

Lexus first entered the motorsport arena in 1999 when its racing unit, Team Lexus, fielded two GS 400 race vehicles in the Motorola Cup North American Street Stock Championship. In its 1999 inaugural season, Team Lexus achieved its first victory with its sixth race at Road Atlanta. That year, Team Lexus also attained four podium finishes in nine races and held two track records. Led by SCCA and IMSA driver Chuck Goldsborough, Team Lexus raced to a second victory, two podium finishes, and three top-five finishes in 2000. Team Lexus ranked third overall in the manufacturers championship that year, which each GS 400 race achieving a top ten result.

In 2001, Team Lexus capitalized on the debut of the first generation Lexus IS by entering three IS 300s in the renamed Grand-Am Cup (now run by the Grand American Road Racing Association). By 2002, Team Lexus had won the Drivers Championship and Team Championship with nine podium finishes, and a sweep of the top three finishes at Le Circuit Mont Treblant in Quebec, Canada. In 2003, Team Lexus achieved four pole positions, six podium finishes, two track records at Daytona 24 and Mosport, and a victory at Miami-Homestead.

Lexus has also participated in endurance racing, in particular the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona, sanctioned by the Grand American Road Racing Association. After entering the Rolex Sports Car Series in 2004, Lexus has won over 15 Rolex Series event races. In 2005, Lexus was runners-up and in 2006 it won the championship. Although Toyota has won this prestigious race in the past it was the first time that its luxury arm emerged as the winner. In 2007, six Lexus-powered Daytona prototypes were entered in the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona event at the Daytona International Speedway. Lexus was a repeat winner of the event, with a Lexus-Riley prototype driven by Scott Pruett, Juan Pablo Montoya, and Salvador Durán of Chip Ganassi Racing finishing first; Lexus-Riley prototypes also took three of the top ten spots. In 2008, Lexus won its third consecutive win at Daytona.

After the release of the Lexus brand on the Japanese Domestic Market (JDM) in 2005, four SC 430 coupes were entered in the Super GT series in the GT500 class. In the first race of the 2006 series, an SC 430 took the chequered flag, and drivers André Lotterer and Juichi Wakisaka raced the SC 430 to capture the GT500 championship for that year. In 2007 another SC 430 was victorious in the GT500 opening round race. In 2006, Lexus raced a hybrid vehicle for the first time, entering a GS 450h performance hybrid sedan in the Tokachi 24-hour Race in Hokkaido, Japan. Lexus Canada entered the GS 450h in 2007’s Targa Newfoundland event. Lexus IS models have also been entered in the British Touring Car Championship via BTC Racing, LGT Engineering, and other teams.

In 2006, Team Lexus made plans to enter two IS 350 race cars in the American Le Mans Series’ GT2 class. Lexus is also expected participate in 12 Hours of Sebring which now form a part of American Le Mans. Additionally, there have been unsubstantiated rumors since 2005 of Lexus badged F1 engines in the near future, facilitated by the re-branding of the Toyota engines currently supplied to the Williams F1 racing team; Toyota itself maintains an active F1 operation.

F-marque

Further information: Lexus IS-F

In late 2006, Lexus filed trademark applications for an “F” emblem, leading to speculation that the luxury marque was about to launch a performance brand.[68] At the time it was suggested that “F” stood for “Fast” or “Flagship.” Later reports surmised that “F” referred to the Fuji Speedway in Japan, whose first corner, 27R, was said to have inspired the shape of the “F” emblem.[69] Interviews with company executives in prior years had included mentions of Lexus possibly starting a performance brand to compete with the likes of Mercedes’ AMG, Audi’s S/RS, Cadillac’s V-series, and BMW’s M division, among others. An earlier in-house tuning effort, the TRD-based L-Tuned, had offered performance packages on the IS 300 and GS 400 sedans in the early 2000s.

In December 2006, Lexus announced that the first vehicle in the F-marque lineup, the IS-F sedan, previously known in the press as the IS 500, would premiere at the North American International Auto Show in January 2007. The vehicle subsequently premiered at Detroit along with a redesigned version of the concept LF-A supercar. Compared to the 2GR-FSE V6, 306 hp (228 kW) IS 350, the IS-F featured a 2UR-GSE V8 engine and over 400 hp (300 kW). Media reports suggested that the IS-F sedan would be followed by a GS-F sedan and IS-F coupe. The IS-F is scheduled to be in dealerships by early 2008. The IS-F made its European premiere at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September 2007, and premiered in Japan at the Fuji Speedway in October 2007.

With the launch of the second generation 2007 IS sedans, the premiere of concept LF-Series vehicles, and increasing participation in motorsports, Lexus’ brand identity is expanding to include more performance-oriented aspects. Versions of the SC and GS models have received favorable reactions from sport luxury buyers and automotive enthusiasts,[5] while several Lexus models have been characterized as favoring comfort at the expense of sporty performance. A number of automotive reviewers have also given Lexus’ German rivals higher marks for road feel and handling, especially during racetrack testing. The IS-F has been seen as an effort to further bolster Lexus’ performance credentials.

In 2007, Lexus entered the IS-F in the 2007 Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) show, offering a factory sanctioned performance accessory line in conjunction with the debut of its F-marque division.

Further information: Lexus LF

Lexus’ future intentions are hinted at in its concept car efforts. While a number of early Lexus concept cars never saw production, the latest LF Series concept vehicles (which first began appearing at auto shows in 2003) have translated into production form. Elements of the LF-S sedan appeared in the 2006 GS sedan, and design cues from the LF-C convertible appeared in the 2006 IS sedan. The LF-C’s hardtop design has also led to speculation on a possible IS coupe or convertible model. The LF-Sh concept car gave the public an advance preview of the 2007 LS 460’s appearance several months later. Unique features on the LF Series concept vehicles include advanced instrumentation, multiple driver-selected vehicle configurations, hybrid/experimental powertrains, concept security features, and unconventional driver interface designs.

Reports in Road and Track indicate that the LF-A coupe concept has been approved for production, potentially designated as the 2009 GT 450. Autoweek has also reported that the LF-X crossover concept will appear as the forthcoming JX SUV. Prototype models of the LF-A have been spotted at the Nürburgring test track in Germany, along with a modified second generation IS model which may be the high-performance IS-F motorsport version.

Lexus Managing Officer, Takeshi Yoshida, has also stated Lexus’ intentions to produce future production models using more dedicated Lexus platforms, as is the case for the LS flagship. The entry-level Lexus ES, in particular, had been chided for being too similar to the Toyota Camry, its shared platform cousin, in both styling and powertrain design. Besides a convertible version of the IS, new Lexus models also in development reportedly include an SUV sized below the RX and dedicated hybrids. The third generation successor for the SC 430 coupe is planned for a more distant date.

According to division executives, Lexus plans to introduce Lexus Hybrid Drive on every vehicle in the Lexus lineup. The impetus for the expansion of Lexus hybrid technology involves the convergence of environmental concern and commercial success; the recent addition of hybrid models to the current Lexus lineup (including the RX 400h, GS 450h, and LS 600h) has driven sales increases in environmentally-conscious markets. In the United Kingdom, one out of every four Lexus vehicles sold in 2006 was a hybrid, with the GS 450h and RX 400h having sold more units than their petrol counterparts.[80] In 2006, 80% of all RX models sold in Europe were of the hybrid model. Politicians in the UK (such as David Cameron, leader of the Conservative Party) have endorsed Lexus by using lower-emission Lexus GS 450h vehicles in place of British-built Jaguars or Land Rovers. Various UK government agencies also use the GS 450h and RX 400h. The London congestion charge has excluded hybrid vehicles, adding incentive to Lexus hybrids. In Ireland, cabinet members (including Dick Roche, Minister for the Environment) have switched to GS 450h models;in Monaco, Prince Albert II (of the royal House of Grimaldi) purchased an LS 600h and advocated hybrid tax credits. The advent of Lexus hybrid technology is touted by Lexus officials as a strategy for raising the profile of Lexus in countries with greater public perception of the Mercedes-Benz, Audi, BMW and Jaguar rival brands.

In 2007, Lexus Group VP Jim Farley revealed plans for a possible high-mileage, low emissions hybrid focused on efficiency, a rechargeable hybrid with electric range, and a “high performance hybrid” designed to appeal to performance enthusiasts.[86] The efficiency-focused hybrid would cater to demands for a decrease in both carbon pollution and oil reliance.[86] At present, Lexus hybrids are designed around a balance of increased performance along with improved efficiency and emissions.

Although Lexus has had phenomenal success in the US since its introduction, it has had more modest success outside North America. In its home country, Japan, the Lexus brand started marketing in 2005 and initially exhibited slower than expected sales. The introduction of the LS 460 in September 2006, however, led to over 12,000 orders in its first month–several times expectations, and more robust sales were seen that year. Meanwhile, Lexus sales remain focused on the US market. In 2006, two-thirds of total global Lexus sales of 475,000 units came from the United States, followed in size by Japan, the UK, China, Canada, and Russia. Lexus launched in China in 2006 and Malaysia in 2007.

With regards to the European market, where Lexus has a less developed dealership network, smaller brand recognition, and minor market share, automotive analysts have pointed to a difference between U.S. and European customers, suggesting that Lexus has been successful in North America because the wide consumer base of Toyota (especially baby boomers) desired luxury cars as they were becoming older and their surplus incomes allowed them to migrate to upscale brands. The success of Lexus in the U.S. was attributed to higher levels of perceived quality and lower prices than competitors, which enabled it to retain previously migrating customers. In Europe, this may have had repercussions as Lexus cultivated a value-priced brand image, causing slow acceptance in the European arena due to differences in perceived value. This has led some automotive thinkers to believe that Lexus must price its products head-to-head with the European premium brands and emphasize its quality, reliability and engineering in order to succeed globally.

Additionally, automotive analysts have noted Lexus’ relative newcomer status in the luxury market, compared with the storied reputation of its European rivals, as a limiting factor for its initial sales acceptance in worldwide markets. Rivals Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and Porsche have stressed their decades of heritage and pedigree in an effort to promote their products, whereas since its inception Lexus’ reputation rests primarily upon its perceived product quality and the shared history of its parent company, Toyota. The characteristics of heritage, built up over many years, and pedigree, are regarded by some reviewers as a challenge for Lexus, although their impact is debated. Ultimately, a number of analysts have stated that Lexus will have to develop its own heritage over time by investing in technological innovations and producing substantial products.

Lexus has recently embarked upon a global expansion strategy, an effort which began with the receipt of added organizational independence from its parent company in 2005. As part of this effort, Lexus has begun expanding its dealership networks in Europe and Asia, with dedicated new facilities and an increased advertising expenditure. Meanwhile, quality levels of European brands have seemingly declined, while Lexus continues to score highly on such reports.[96] Luxury buyers and high-profile owners have switched to Lexus vehicles due to their more dependable reputation. Also, in order to attract European buyers, diesel engines have been added to the lineup (starting with the IS 220d), the F-marque performance division has been launched (with the IS-F), and with related versions of the Lexus LF concept cars making it into production, Lexus is quickly beginning to re-invent itself as a global luxury brand. The latest Lexus models have also moved up in sticker price to more closely match their European rivals; the LS 600h L has become the most expensive luxury vehicle ever produced in Japan with an ultra-luxury sticker price of approximately $125,000. In 2007, Lexus entered Interbrand’s list of the Top 100 Global Brands for the first time, with an estimated brand value of approximately $3 billion annually.

In the United Kingdom, the largest European market for Lexus, the IS series accounts for the largest number of new Lexus sales (the largest proportion increasing with sales of the new IS 220d). Along with a sales shift towards Lexus hybrids, the second generation IS, which emerged in 2006 as an alternate choice to the dominant German and British marques’ compact executive cars, has since become a primary player for Lexus’ efforts in Europe. With Lexus sales increasing in the UK due to the introduction of the new IS series, LS flagship, and GS/RX hybrids, Lexus has emerged as a European second-tier luxury brand with substantial growth potential. Total Lexus Europe sales increased 72% in 2006 to over 50,000 vehicles, making Lexus one of the fastest growing makes on the continent.

Lexus vehicles in Russia and China are experiencing high demand, with higher per-dealership sales than any other market. In South Korea, with sales of the ES 350 spearheading its efforts, Lexus has been the top-selling luxury import since 2005; in Taiwan, Lexus also became the top-selling luxury import in 2005. In Australia, Lexus experienced high sales growth and ranked third in overall luxury import sales in 2006, with the IS model generating high demand. In 2007, Lexus sales captured the lead in the emerging Chinese luxury car market. Total worldwide Lexus sales were forecast to reach 500,000 vehicles in 2007. Lexus will open its first showroom in the Philippines by 3rd Quarter 2008.

Several of Lexus’ ideas on the future of automotive design have appeared on film. In 2002, Lexus was requested by Steven Spielberg, an ardent fan of Lexus and himself an owner of an LX 470 and an RX 400h, to design a vehicle which would fit the requirements of year 2054 for his movie Minority Report. Designers working with Lexus came up with an advanced vehicle which would run on fuel cells and have many advanced safety features including a crash-proof structure and biometric security systems. (Lexus’ cinematic concept car also appears in The Island, though it’s colored blue, not red). A Lexus film tie-in site proposed a Lexus future vehicle that would drive itself, take dinner orders verbally, and select music to match occupant moods. The Lexus 2054 later appeared at several auto shows and public events.

The term “the Lexus of…” has also entered the cultural lexicon as a description of a high-end product, or an upscale brand produced by a mainstream manufacturer. For example, in 2006 Dell announced a premium lineup of computers, calling it “the Lexus of our lineup.” Further example comparisons include “the Lexus of phones” or “the Lexus of video…”, among others. Late night comedian Jay Leno first coined the term “Lexus-ized” for his automotive columns in Popular Mechanics, an expression generally used to describe the Lexus approach to luxury motoring. Despite the official pluralized form of Lexus being simply Lexus, the public has also made its own derivatives (the most popular derivative being ‘Lexi’, first proposed by Steve Coogan in a comedy sketch). The New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman cited Lexus as an example of the drive for prosperity and development in his best-selling 1999 book, The Lexus and the Olive Tree.

In the UK, the LS 430 flagship was introduced in the BBC spy drama, Spooks; Lexus models were also placed on ITV’s Coronation Street, the BBC’s Judge John Deed, and other programs. Lexus GB models saw sales increases after being seen on ITV’s Footballers’ Wives. In 2002, comedian Steve Coogan’s fictional BBC Alan Partridge character replaced his Rover with an IS 200, calling it the “Japanese Mercedes” and one of many “Lexi”; his superficial character was seen as detrimental to the brand’s image. By 2004, multiple hip-hop artists made mention of Lexus vehicles in their songs, an endorsement which Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson suggested added street credibility for the brand.

The introduction of Lexus hybrids have garnered further media attention through celebrity RX 400h owners such as Dustin Hoffman, Diane Keaton, and Holly Hunter, who were among the earliest adopters of the Lexus Hybrid Drive technology. Hollywood luminaries are also among the buyers for the GS 450h and LS 600h L hybrid performance sedans, with early release examples appearing at celebrity events.

Advertisements

Lexus has used a consistent design for its television advertisements in the United States. The ads are commonly narrated by film and television actor James Sloyan, and accompanied by vehicles which perform unusual stunts onscreen. The first decade of commercials (1989-1999) consisted primarily of disjunctive verbal descriptions, such as “relentless,” “pursuit,” and “perfection” while the vehicles were used to claim superiority in braking, handling, idling, and interior quiet & comfort on camera. Newer ads have become somewhat more descriptive, occasionally including full descriptions of novel features or a narration of the events onscreen. Lexus commercials, while consistent in formula, closely resemble those of Infiniti and Acura (Lexus’ competitors in the automobile market), which also have used celebrity voice-overs (Jonathan Pryce and James Spader, respectively), while providing similar visual cues to the audience about vehicle features and craftsmanship.

Community contributions

Since 1989, the annual Lexus Champions for Charity golf series has raised over $100 million for charity causes. This Lexus-sponsored golf series begins with over 190 golf tournaments held at golf and country clubs around the U.S., and culminates in a three-day championship tournament at Pebble Beach’s Spyglass Hill, Spanish Bay, and Pebble Beach Golf Links courses, with $1,000 prize donations at the local level, and multiple prizes at the national level leading up to a $100,000 championship charity purse. Since 2002, Lexus has also been the presenting sponsor of the Michael Douglas and Friends celebrity golf tournament, which raises health care and community funds via the Motion Picture & Television Fund. Other philanthropic efforts by Lexus include the Pursuit of Potential children’s charity (including the Lexus Environmental Challenge with Scholastic) and vehicle auctions for Adopt-A-Minefield and Cedars-Sinai Medical Center’s Road to a Cure. Many Lexus dealerships also sponsor community organizations in their local neighborhoods.

Event partnerships

Since 2005, Lexus has been a primary sponsor of the US Open tennis Grand Slam event, awarding a GS sedan (and later an IS-F) to the men’s and women’s singles champions. Lexus also provides exclusive transportation throughout New York City for all players in the event, using a fleet of 125 Lexus vehicles, including hybrids. In 2006, the Lexus US Open fleet drove a total of 101,730 miles (163,720 km) in two weeks.

In January 2007, Lexus became the first exclusive automotive sponsor of the United States Golf Association, and will play a major part in the U.S. Open, U.S. Women’s Open, U.S. Senior Open, and U.S. Amateur tournaments. As part of their sponsorship of the 2007 U.S. Open in Oakmont, the luxury marque provided cars to all players and USGA officials.

Worldwide, Lexus sponsorships include the Lexus Cup golf tournament in Singapore and Australia, the Lexus Gauntlet collegiate sports competition in Southern California, the Lexus Song Quest singing competition in New Zealand, Lexus Design in Business Awards in New Zealand, the Lexus European Flyfishing Championships in England, the Lexus Champions Challenge golf event in Japan, the Lexus Inside Film Awards in Australia (from 1999 until 2006), and the Lexus Centre in Melbourne, Australia. Lexus is also an official sponsor of the Hollywood Bowl and Sydney Opera House, along with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Philadelphia Orchestra.

In addition to its tennis and golf event partnerships, Lexus has signed endorsement contracts with star athletes, including Andy Roddick (with support for the Andy Roddick Foundation), Annika Sörenstam, and Peter Jacobsen.[124] Lexus also signed musician Sir Paul McCartney as a proponent of its hybrid vehicle technology (including the charity auction of a specialized RX 400h designed with input from the former Beatles star).

In a grassroots sports sponsorship, Lexus Stockport have recently taken on a two sponsorship deal with Wilmslow Rugby Club.

Historical timeline

* 1983
o Toyota Chairman Eiji Toyoda challenges his company to build a luxury flagship to “challenge the world’s best.” This effort becomes known as the F1 project.
* 1985
o F1 researchers visit the United States to conduct market research and focus groups on luxury buyers. The first LS 400 prototypes are built.
* 1986
o Testing for the new Lexus flagship begins at the autobahn in Germany.
* 1987
o Final design of the LS 400 is approved.
* 1989
o The LS 400 debuts at the Detroit Motor Show, and goes on sale in September of that year alongside the entry-level ES 250 sedan.
* 1990
o Lexus capture the trifecta of J.D. Power’s Initial Quality, Customer Satisfaction, and Sales Satisfaction studies. Car and Driver magazine names the LS 400 one of the Ten Best of the year.
* 1991
o Lexus becomes the top-selling import marque in the United States. The SC 300, SC 400 and ES 300 models are introduced.
* 1992
o Motor Trend magazine names the SC 400 its Import Car of the Year.
* 1993
o Lexus introduces the GS 300 luxury performance sedan.
* 1994
o Lexus introduces the second generation LS 400 sedan.
* 1996
o Lexus introduces the third generation ES 300 sedan and its first luxury utility vehicle, the LX 450.
* 1997
o Lexus introduces the second generation GS 300 and GS 400 sedans. Motor Trend magazine names the new GS its Import Car of the Year.
* 1998
o The RX 300, the world’s first luxury crossover SUV, goes on sale at Lexus dealerships. The RX soon becomes Lexus’ top-selling model.
* 1999
o Lexus sells its one-millionth vehicle in the U.S.
* 2000
o Lexus introduces the third generation LS 430 sedan and IS 300 entry sport sedan.
* 2001
o Lexus introduces the fourth generation ES 300 sedan.
* 2002
o Lexus introduces its third luxury utility vehicle, the GX 470.
* 2003
o The Lexus Development Center is founded in Japan, becoming the headquarters for Lexus’ future design efforts.
* 2005
o Lexus introduces the third generation GS mid-size sport sedans, debuting L-Finesse styling. Later that year, Lexus introduces the second generation IS sport sedans.
o Top Gear named the IS as the Compact Executive Car of the year, defeating the BMW E90 3-Series.
* 2006
o Lexus debuts the LS 600h L, the world’s first production V8 hybrid sedan. The new ES 350 and fourth generation LS 460/LS 460 L sedans go on sale.
* 2007
o At the North American International Auto Show, Lexus launches its dedicated F-marque performance division, with the unveiling of its first high-performance sedan, the IS-F, and an exotic supercar concept, the LF-A.
o The Lexus LS 460 flagship is named International Car of the Year at the ICOTY Awards, and is also named World Car of the Year at the WCOTY Awards.
o The LS 600h and LS 600h L go on sale worldwide.
* 2008
o Lexus releases the third generation LX 570.
o The Lexus IS-F goes on sale in early 2008.

See also
Japanese Car Portal

* Lexus LF
* Toyota
* Toyota Century

Scribbled on April 3rd 2008 in Lexus, Miscellaneous, News
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