Lexus was beginning to hit its stride. July sales were the best ever at 5,558, of which 1,979 were ES250s. We were tracking to hit our objectives for the first time. I was feeling good about achieving our goals—before Saddam Hussein ruined everything.
Hussein and the government of Iraq had long claimed that the country of Kuwait rightly belonged to them. Kuwait was formed in 1963 with the protection of the Arab League. Iraq strongly objected, claiming Kuwait had been wrongly taken from them in 1923 when the British drew up new borders for that part of the world.
On August 2, 1990, after making numerous threats, Hussein ordered the Iraq Army to invade Kuwait. The magnitude and swiftness of the invasion surprised the world. Within hours, Iraq overran the country and seized Kuwait City. The Iraqi soldiers then headed to the southern border toward Saudi Arabia.
U.S. forces were put on immediate alert. Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney met with King Fahd of Saudi Arabia, and orders were immediately issued for the largest buildup of U.S. forces since Vietnam. The 82nd Airborne Division and Third Armored Division with its Abrams M1A tanks were immediately deployed. By the end of September, nearly 200,000 U.S. troops were in Saudi Arabia.
The U.S. received permission from the U.N. Security Council to use force in removing Iraq from Kuwait if Saddam did not leave peacefully. None of this was good news for car sales.
The hope was that Saddam Hussein would leave Kuwait without being forced. This possible conflict would hang over the economy for the remainder of 1990. Lexus had planned a special trip to Japan to show the dealers the new SC400 and ES300. That trip was cancelled and rescheduled for the spring of 1991 in Vancouver, Canada. I tried my best to stay positive.
“Display your power, O God, as you have in the past…rebuke the enemy nations…scatter the nations that delight in war.” Psalm 68:28-30
The ES250 was doing well, but the new ES300 would be an even more competitive. Because of all the uncertainty, we needed the new ES300 now. Unfortunately, it would be a long time, over a year, before it would be ready to sell.
(To be continued in “The New ES300”)