GOD OF HOPE

Lexus – God, Guts, & Aspirin

#25 – Gut Check: No Second Car

When Chairman E. Toyoda made the decision to allow the U.S. to sell Flagship 1 in a new luxury channel, there were no plans to develop additional products. Fourteen hundred of Toyota’s best engineers had been diverted to the Flagship 1 project.  There was no “kosu,”...

#26 – Case C: ES 250 Lives

The Product Planning Department in the U.S. started searching for a four-door sedan that was different from the Camry. These sedans were sold in other countries, but might also be sold in the U.S. as a near-luxury four-door sedan until the all-new F3 would be...

#27 – Our Nissan Nemesis: Infiniti

In July of 1987, Nissan announced the formation of a new luxury car division to be called Infiniti that would start selling cars in the fall of 1989. How could we have not known about this? Did they know that we were going to announce Lexus? How were they able to...

#28 – Announcing Lexus

On August 24, 1987, Toyota announced a new luxury car division to be called Lexus. Bob McCurry, Toyota Motor Sales, USA Senior Vice President, revealed that the new luxury car division would be a completely separate franchise from Toyota, have two all-new Lexus...

#29 – The NFL Rule

The Toyota legal department insisted that everything about Lexus needed to be separate from Toyota. This meant a separate headquarters building, separate field force offices, a different advertising agency, a different dealer agreement, a new distribution system, as...

#30 – Babies are Born Every Day

We decided to wait for school to be out before moving back to California. Cynthia would be alone with four young boys until we moved in May. Nevertheless, the move should have been easy because we were moving back to our old home.   Newsweek magazine offered...

#31 – Black Monday of 1987

The 1987 stock market was booming, fueled by low interest rates, buyouts, and merger mania. Corporations were growing, and excitement about the personal computer industry was revolutionizing business. This euphoria made investors believe that the stock market would...

#32 – Lexus vs. LexisNexis: Round 1

When John French came up with the idea of dropping the a and changing the i to u, thus creating the new Lexus name, the general counsel for Toyota, Bill Plourde, was in the room. The Lexis name came up in the discussion, but since Lexus was a new word, spelled...

#33 – The Lexus Logo

There was no turning back. Lexus was the name, and we needed a brand logo. Toyota had never had a logo on the grilles of its vehicles, such as the Chevrolet bow tie or the Ford blue oval. Convincing Toyota in Japan that Lexus needed a logo and developing one they...

#34 – 1987: In the Rearview Mirror

The year 1987 was one to remember. Whitney Houston was belting out the song “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” and one of my favorite movies, Hoosiers, was showing in theatres. Ronald Reagan told Mikhail Gorbachev to “tear down this wall” and the European Union was formed....

#35 – Finding Dealers

The Lexus dealer roll out was divided into three waves. Wave 1 consisted of 101 dealers in the major markets to open by September of 1989. Wave 2 consisted of 44 dealers and wave 3 would have 50 in smaller markets. The two later waves would happen after the wave 1...

#36 – Finally Facilities

My brother Curtis was a professor of architecture at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. I called him and explained my dealership facility problem. He listened and asked me to describe the style of dealership we wanted. I told him we wanted a luxury car dealership but that it...