September 1, 1989 – The first Lexus sales begin

First Lexus was the LS 400
1989 Lexus LS 400 sedan was the first Lexus model.

On September 1, 1989, a new era in the automotive world dawned as Toyota introduced its luxury vehicle division, Lexus, to the United States. This marked the culmination of six years of meticulous development and planning, with the launch of the Lexus LS 400, a luxury sedan aimed squarely at competing with renowned European automakers like BMW and Mercedes-Benz. Over the years, Lexus has established itself as a symbol of luxury, reliability, and innovation. Let’s delve into the history of Lexus vehicles and how they’ve evolved into the prestigious brand we know today.

The Genesis of Lexus

The story of Lexus began with a profound commitment to excellence. Toyota, already well-known for its reliable and efficient vehicles, set its sights on creating a luxury division that would not only match but surpass the standards set by European luxury brands.

The LS 400, the first Lexus vehicle, was unveiled with great anticipation. This luxurious sedan was powered by a 250-horsepower 4-liter V8 engine, setting a new benchmark for performance and refinement in the luxury car segment. Its sophisticated design, attention to detail, and cutting-edge technology were evident from the moment it rolled off the assembly line at the Tahara Plant near Nagoya.

1989 Lexus LS 400 (rear view).

To ensure the utmost quality and performance, each LS 400 underwent rigorous testing, including speeds of up to 100 mph on a factory track in Japan. Additionally, all vehicles received a thorough inspection and test drive in the U.S. before being delivered to dealerships. This commitment to quality set the standard for Lexus vehicles from the beginning and contributed to the brand’s reputation for reliability.

The U.S. Launch of Lexus

Lexus made its grand entrance into the U.S. market on September 1, 1989, with approximately 65 dealers ready to serve customers. By the end of that year, Lexus had expanded its network to include 100 dealerships across the country. The first shipment of Lexus vehicles arrived in the U.S. in August, just in time for the launch.

While the LS 400 was the star of the show, Lexus didn’t stop there. The ES 250, a four-door executive sedan powered by a 2.5-liter V6 engine, also joined the lineup. This expansion catered to a broader range of luxury car enthusiasts and helped Lexus establish a foothold in the market.

Sales Success and Recognition

1998 RX 300, first Lexus crossover SUV.

The launch of Lexus was met with resounding success. Sales for 1989 reached the ambitious target of 16,000 units, a testament to the brand’s appeal to luxury car buyers. Furthermore, the LS 400 received critical acclaim for its quality, performance, and innovative features, helping Lexus secure its position among the top luxury automobile manufacturers.

The history of Lexus vehicles began with a bold vision to challenge European luxury automakers. Today, Lexus is celebrated for its commitment to quality, innovation, and customer satisfaction. It’s a testament to the legacy that began with that first LS 400 rolling out of the Tahara Plant near Nagoya, Japan. That legacy continues to thrive in the hearts and garages of car enthusiasts worldwide.

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