“Are we able to design luxury cars that are capable of performing better and better than the high-end manufacturers?” It is with this question that Eiji Toyoda, head of the Toyota group, begins his meeting, surrounded by the company’s top executives. On this day in 1983, the Japanese launched the top secret project “F1” for Flag number 1. For several years Toyota has been successfully competing with US manufacturers on popular cars. Now his desire is completely different. They attack Mercedes-Benz and BMW.
Real market research
In May 1985, Toyota dealers traveled to the United States to conduct a comprehensive market study. Designers are also invited to rent a house in Laguna Beach for the entire summer season. The idea is simple, to get as close as possible to the intended target, the well-to-do Americans.
By living like them, in the midst of their neighborhood, they will be able to look at them, analyze their way of life and understand them better. At the end of this summer season, the first concrete decisions fall. For example, the Japanese realize that a high-paying US customer does not want to buy a luxury car in a dilapidated Toyota garage. It will be necessary to provide a separate network and personal reception. But the road is still long.
What is the name of Toyota’s luxury brand?
The Japanese company handles its regular advertising agency, Saatchi and Saatchi, with the sale of its brand new brand. A team dedicated to the project is formed, the “First Team”. The Lippincott & Margulies Agency lists 219 names such as “Vectre”, “Chaparel”, “Verone” or “Alexis” which becomes the most popular name.
Eventually, the name will be changed to “Lexus”. One theory is that Lexus is short for Luxury Sales to the United States, without this brand approval.
Mathematical formula as emblem
It is the Italian architect Giorgetto Giugiaro who will present the idea of a embroidered emblem. Molly Designs and Hunter Communications were entrusted with the design of this logo, which is intended to be branded as a symbol of elegance and power.
Since its launch, Lexus has claimed that the oval shape responds to the correct arithmetic formula and does not owe the lottery. In 1988, the brand was presented and visited salons in Chicago, New York and Los Angeles. But what car will he sell?
Lexus LS 400, best performance
In 1989, the F1 project was completed with the introduction of the first brand car, the Lexus LS 400. After years of work involving 1,400 engineers, 2,300 technicians, 220 employees, 450 prototypes, 60 designers and 24 development teams, the first Lexus he was born. Its development cost $ 1 billion.
Lexus has no chance of making a mistake and nothing is left to chance, from the first bolt to a network of 81 dealers across the United States. Several million dollars have been invested in television commercials.
Better than a Mercedes
The quality of the design attracts customers and journalists. The LS 400 is as quiet as any other car before, its interior is well-designed, and we salute its model finish, its neat direction and its low fuel consumption.
The American magazine Car and Driver makes the point in favor of the Lexus LS 400 for $ 38,000 over the $ 63,000 Mercedes-Benz 420 SEL. In the months that followed, BMW and Mercedes-Benz brands saw their sales drop by 29% and 19% respectively. But a small particle of sand will upset the Japanese.
A mark of honesty
After a few months of marketing, the reliability record is impressive. There is no disappointing analysis for most owners. The only drawback is that two US Lexus drivers are complaining about electronic errors. Two dissatisfied clients out of 16,000 are not so much. But it is enough to annoy the big bosses who are planning the 8000 Lexus memo.
The manufacturer sends technicians to the owners’ homes to pick up the cars before repairing and returning them. Within twenty days, all Lexus was repaired without bothering the owners. The operation is praised by journalists and Lexus owners. Confidence is available, everyone now knows they can rely on their Lexus.