In 2000, a series of entry-level sports sedans, the IS line was introduced by Lexus, and the marque’s first convertible, the SC 430, debuted a year later. Lexus’s hot run continued in the following years as well, as it introduced two mid-sized SUVs, namely the SC 430 and LS 430 in 2002 and 2003 respectively.
The two-millionth vehicle of the company in the US was sold in 2004, after which Lexus officially separated from its parent company, Toyota, in 2005. Later that year, Lexus entered the Japanese market and a series of new generation models were made available there. For the first half of the year, sales were slower than expected, but improved considerably in later months due to an expanded lineup.
This was followed by sales successes in Taiwan and North Korea in 2005, where Lexus became the top-selling import marque. They also did well in Australia and the Middle East, which led to official launches in South Africa and Malaysia in 2006. There were also launches in Indonesia, Chile and the Philippines in 2007, 2008 and 2009 respectively.
In 2011, sales of Lexus’s hybrid hatchback, the CT 200h, started, with the intent to target Europe and multiple markets. However, in March 2011, the earthquake and tsunami in Japan hindered Lexus’s production lines immensely, which meant the marque was no longer the top-selling premium brand in the US.