After an extensive development process that involved numerous designers, engineers, technicians, support workers, prototypes, and not to mention more than $1 billion in costs, the first-ever Lexus vehicle (Lexus LS 400) was introduced to the world in January 1989. It was praised widely, but did receive criticism from some automobile columnists.
But even so the Lexus LS 400 opened well in markets, and went on to win numerous major motoring awards from renowned publications, including the Wheels Magazineand the Automobile Magazine. This had an adverse affect on the sales of Mercedes-Benz and BMW’s in the US, where figures dropped by 29% and 19% respectively.
Despite being a minnow, Lexus established customer loyalty, that too instantly, courtesy of their voluntary recall of all 8,000 models sold. Though the recall was based upon two customer complaints, this quick response was lauded by all and established a reputation of good customer service early on.
In 1990, Lexus began exports to Australia, the UK, Switzerland and Canada thanks to a strong figure of 63,594 sold vehicles in its first year of sales. A year later, the SC 400, Lexus’s first sports coupe was launched, followed by the 2nd generation ES 200 sedan, which became the brand’s top selling car.