How Lexus LS400 Revolutionized the Luxury Cars Market Space

It al began in 1983 with a project codenamed F-1. The Flagship-1 was initiated by the president of Toyota company with a codified mission to figure out an edge, on how Toyota could stand out above the pool of crowd and dominate the competition in the sales of luxury cars. Back then in the 80s,Toyota was relatively a small player in the western auto market space in the face of dominant luxury products from giants like Mecedes Benz and BMW. Project F.1 was then launched with an innovative ingenuity to off balance the auto market space with the most aggressive marketing storm ever recorded in the auto marketing industry.

Discovering the Attractions of Luxury Vehicles

From the onset, project F-1 team knew that to make any meaningful headway, they will need to understand the attractions of the auto luxury vehicles and exactly how it tickles the consumers. They knew that their luxury brand, the Centenary was only a hit in the Japanese market and did not have the glamour to compete in the western market. The project team needed to understand the frills and trills of premium vehicles and how it resonates with the international customers. This they did by Speaking to focus groups, exploring the lifestyles of their targeted customers with a view to distil the key qualities needed to upstage the market place.

What they discovered was hard to tell. The research revealed that when it comes to luxury vehicles, the top priority for western customers was a car with glamorous image. Besides, customers needed a prestigious but cost-effective luxury car which they can change for a newer model at relative periodic time interval. Unlike the overpriced luxury cars from Mercedes Benz and BMW, which took almost a decade before a new model is released, the F-1 team soon realized that – though customers needed a sleek but fairly priced car without undermining quality, they also do not want to drive a particular model for too long without a face lift. So the model change factor was born. Though this was going to be a tough nut to crack against the established market players, the F-1 team had gotten the break they needed and was going to leverage on that.

Reassessing the Target Project

In order to surpass and dethrone the established market players finest, the team had to tasked themselves with different plans and stringent parameters. Some within the team even doubted if such audacious target was ever going to be achieved. The target car had to be glamorously sleek, faster, more fuel economical and less expensive than what was already on offer in the market space. The real huddle was the conflicting combination brought together in one single automobile. However, the head of the team, chief engineer Ichiro Susuki was upbeat about the possible outcome. He was never going to compromise nor take any no for an answered. He dug on and led the team with a fierce kinetic approach’

Chief Engineer Ichiro Suzuki was the flag head and brain behind the LS400’s development. An unperturbed and astute Engineer without compromise. Despite the skepticism from members of the F-1 engineering team and the hash disapproval by Akira Takahashi – his director of product engineering, Ichiro Suzuki was not deterred. Akira Takahashi had told him with much chagrin that the envisioned project was damned and dumb. He informed him that though the fact remains that Toyota had one of the best production equipment in the world, His envisioned project could never come to fruition. Ichiro Suzuki however stuck to his belt and pursued the project to a conclusive reality. Ichiro Suzuki would later recall – “I couldn’t compromise, If I did, then it would be just a normal vehicle.”

Discovering the Engineering Marvel

After about six years of research and development and astronomical cost estimates of about a billion dollars, the the LS400, being the first born of the Lexus class, became a reality. It was an engineering marvel that Toyota once boasted that Ls400 would not need a service network since it would never, ever break down. With a V8 engine of 4.0L, top speed of 250 km/h and fuel consumption level of 9.9 km/l on average, the challenge to develop an engine that would be more powerful than the German rivals, BMW and Mercedes – which were then topping at 222 km/h was realized. Due to friction and noise reducing engineering and multiport fuel injected low fuel consumption level, the end result was a smoothest and most reliable engine ever made.

The new LS400 had to prove that it delivered on its promises, not just in isolation, but in the context of the vehicle as a whole. The thoroughness was breathtaking. It took time, but the targets were met and Lexus LS400 proved the impossible could be made possible. The cabin design was top notch and its attention to craftsmanship details was a paragon of beauty. The king of sub-brands started life with just one car and the name Lexus made its debut to huge acclaim. Two years after and precisely in 1990, with positive response of industry media and experts matched by public enthusiasm, Lexus became the best-selling luxury import in the U.S. Mercedes-Benz sales dropped by 19% and sales of BMW dropped by 29%. The change factor has revolutionized the world auto space. Today at, a glance at our sales record would reveal that used or new Lexus brands lead the competition as the most sought after luxury cars.


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