Lexus is the luxury automobile division of Japanese car maker Toyota Motor Corporation. A covert sedan project borne out of a challenge posed by Toyota founder Eiji Toyoda marked the beginnings of the Lexus marque. The secret project, dubbed "Flagship One," commenced in 1983 and culminated in the introduction of the first Lexus car – the premium LS 400 – in the United States in 1989. The new product was aimed at extending Toyota's customer base to include the upscale market.
The LS 400 not only did well in the market, it also collected awards from major publications. In 1991, Lexus reportedly was the best-selling luxury import brand in the United States, beating then reigning leaders Mercedes-Benz and BMW.
The following year, Lexus began exporting to other countries, including Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, and Switzerland. The 1990s saw the launch of notable nameplates, including Lexus' first sports coupe, the SC 400; the topselling ES 200 sedan; the mid-sized sport sedan GS 300; the LX 450, its first sports utility vehicle (SUV); and the highly successful RX 300, its first luxury crossover SUV.
In 1993, Lexus introduced a certified pre-owned program, a first in the industry. Significant releases in the 2000s include the IS line series of entry-level sports sedan, the brand's first convertible – the SC 430, and the mid-sized SUVs the SC 430 and the LS 430.
The year 2005 was special for Lexus. It was during this time that Lexus completed organizational separation from Toyota, its parent company. With this development, Lexus started operating its own design and manufacturing facilities. In the same year, Lexus finally debuted in its home market – Japan. The following years would see Lexus establishing presence and enjoying good reception in several countries.
Lexus has not been without challenges. In 1995, a U.S. government's tariff proposal that would impact premium Japanese cars temporarily halted operations. Six years later, the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan adversely affected Lexus' production lines, with most of its manufacturing plants located in the said country. Today, the Lexus vehicles are widely available in many regions, including North America, Southeast Asia, Latin America, and Europe, among others. The company posted a record year-on-year sales output in 2018, and in February 2019, it sold its tenth million vehicle.
Lexus has a 10-year history in the Philippines. The brand made its local debut in January 2009, with the initial lineup consisting of the LS 460 flagship sedan, the IS 300 compact sedan, the GS 460 sport sedan, the ES 350 executive sedan, and LX 570 full-size sports utility vehicle (SUV). The fleet was in full display at its then newly minted showroom at a 4,500-sqm facility, which also included a service center and the brand's internal offices, in Bonifacio Global City. Lexus has since established a strong footing in the country's luxury automotive market, and today, it ranks as the number two luxury brand in the Philippines in terms of sales volume. Its customer reach across the archipelago has also increased to through five accredited service centers situated in Laguna, La Union, Pampanga, Cebu, and Davao. These facilities were set up in partnership with local Toyota dealers.
For the Philippine market, Lexus makes available a good range of sedan, SUV, hatchback, coupe, hybrid, and performance vehicles. Some of its famous offerings include the IS, the RX, and the GX series.
The IS series includes sedans that boast of athletic looks and refined interiors. The base model, the IS 350, runs on a 3.5-liter V4 Dual DOHC VVT-I with D-4S engine attached to an eight-speed sequential-shift automatic gearbox. It generates a maximum output of 312 horsepower at 6,400 revolutions per minute (rpm) and a peak torque of 378 Nm at 4,800 rpm. The IS 350 sprints from zero to 100 kilometer per hour (km/h) in 5.9 seconds and has a top speed of 230 km/h.
The RX Series is a popular Lexus's offering in the SUV segment. The base model, the RX 350, is powered by a 3.5-liter V6 24-Valve DOHC VVT-iW (Intake) VVT-I (Exhaust). Paired with an eight-speed sequential-shift automatic gearbox, this powertrain produces up to 292 horsepower at 6,200 rpm and 360 Nm of torque at 4,700 rpm. The vehicle accelerates from zero to 100 km/h in eight seconds and reaches a maximum speed of 200 km/h.
The GX is a mid-size SUV series known for strong on-road and off-road capabilities in a luxurious package. In the Philippines, it is available in one model – the GX 460, which under the hood, has a 4.6-liter V8 four cam 32-valve Dual VVT-I with EGR that produces up to 301 horsepower at 5,500 rpm and a peak torque of 438 Nm at 3,500 rpm. It is offered in just one transmission option – a six-speed automatic. It runs from zero to 100 km/h in 8.3 seconds and achieves a top speed of 175 km/h.
Lexus currently operates five manufacturing facilities. Three of these – the Tahara, Motomachi, and Kyusu plants – are in the brand's home country, Japan. Most Lexus models are built in these facilities.
A plant in Cambridge in Ontario, Canada, which opened in 2003, manufactures Lexus RX SUVs and assembles RX Hybrid vehicles. Meanwhile, a fifth factory in Georgetown, Kentucky in the United States produces Lexus ES cars.