Celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, Lexus is one of the world’s younger car makers, but in spite of our relative youth, we have a proud history of achievements that have established our reputation and made an impact on the wider automotive industry
From meeting the challenge of building a market-leading limousine from scratch, to creating the crucial luxury crossover market and being a pioneer of self-charging hybrid power, Lexus has proved its commitment to innovation and excellence.
In a series of features we look back at milestones in our history and our development as an international luxury brand that extends beyond the automotive world to deliver amazing experiences and inspire others.
The technology revolution
Ever since its daring, disruptive entry into the luxury car market in 1989, Lexus has repeatedly broken with convention by pioneering new ideas. Principal among these is its long-established leadership in the development of self-charging hybrid electric powertrains – a technology that has changed the motoring landscape for good.
Thirty years ago, powerful, heavy and fuel-thirsty engines were the unchallenged norm for upmarket automobiles. But as the millennium turned, the world was waking up to the immediate challenge of global warming and the need to conserve natural resources. A new solution was needed: step forward Lexus.
The engineering revolution
In 1983, Toyota president Eiji Toyoda challenged his company to build “a car that is better than the best in the world.” It was a remarkable ambition, and there were many in the automotive world ready to dismiss the idea as fantasy. How could a business with no experience of the international luxury car market have any hope of matching, let alone exceeding the achievements of the industry’s established leaders?
The doubters were all proved wrong. Thanks to the inspiration and utter dedication of the people behind the “Circle F” project – that’s F for Flagship – the Lexus LS 400 was born. It’s a car that history now recognises as a landmark model, a revolutionary disruptor that redefined what luxury motoring was all about.
The safety revolution
In the past 20 years, Lexus has been at the forefront of technical advances that have transformed safety. Today, our cars are able to recognise the risk of an accident, alert the driver to the hazard and, if necessary, intervene automatically to prevent a collision, or reduce the consequences if there is an impact.
For Lexus, safety is paramount, and our investment in the research, development and deployment of sophisticated new technologies is central to our goal of securing a future where there are no road accidents.
The craftsmanship revolution
Lexus uses the latest technology to design and build its cars, but people remain at the heart of everything it does.
True to its proud status as a human-focused company, Lexus relies on the skills of its takumi craftspeople to achieve the finest quality and luxury standards. These dedicated artisans have talents beyond compare, and they lead and train the men and women who bring a very special quality to every Lexus that’s built.
The market revolution
Popular tastes ebb and flow in all things. For everything from music and fashions to food and holiday destinations, interest and desirability will wane over time as people seek new ideas and experiences.
Just the same trends affect the motor industry, and in the early 1990s the love affair between motorists and large-scale SUVs was showing signs of coming to an end. Lexus had already made its mark as a disruptor in the auto business when it arrived on the scene in 1989. Now it saw another opportunity to challenge the status quo and bring something completely new to the market.
The foundations were laid for the RX, a Lexus model that has consistently delivered success and innovation. Not only did the RX create a new market segment, it also went on to become the first luxury market vehicle to feature a self-charging hybrid electric powertrain.
The brand revolution
Lexus is about luxury and amazing experiences, well beyond the world of cars.With a sense of adventure, it has applied the skills of its engineers, designers and craftspeople to a wide spectrum of challenges. Some have obvious real life application, others display vivid imagination or are just made for fun.
Here are some examples of how Lexus has taken its creativity, innovation and brand values into new territories, from science fact to science fiction, from the ocean wave to the movie screen.
Three decades of world firsts
Lexus is constantly pursuing improvement – of our business, our processes and our products. In our commitment to always finding ways of improving what we do, we have become architects of innovation, constantly exploring new ideas and opportunities.
Our quest for improvement has delivered many world-first technologies. Here are 30 innovations we have brought to the global auto industry.
The Lexus timeline
Key moments from Lexus’s first 30 years are captured in this timeline, charting the development of the brand, its products and its technical achievements.