Looking at the 2013 Lexus LS
Back in 1983, Eiji Toyoda, then chairman of Toyota Motor Co., established a plan to create what Mark Templin, group vice president, Lexus Div., describes as “the finest luxury car in the world.” And Templin admits, “It was not thought to be possible.” After all, back in 1983 the Toyota Camry wasn’t even really established. Toyota was known for the Corolla, which is a far cry from “the finest luxury car in the world.”
Be that as it may, the F1 project—no, that’s not as in a racing program, but as in “flagship” and number “1”—was undertaken with literally thousands of designers, engineers, and development personnel involved. It culminated in September 1989 when the Lexus LS 400 went on sale in the U.S.
It was a car that—like was the case with the Toyota Prius, which went on sale in the U.S. in 2000—many executives at global car companies thought was impossible, arguing that Toyota couldn’t possibly profitably make such a car. Of course, the company did spend six years and about $1-billion in the development of the LS, so it isn’t like this is something that it took lightly.
And the car that was once deemed impossible is now five generations on. (OK. There may be some dispute as to whether the 2013 LS represents a new generation. The fundamental platform is what it has been for the 4th generation, with the wheelbase, height and width being exactly the same at 116.9 in., 58.1 in. and 73.8 in., respectively, although the length has been nudged up 0.8 in., to 200.0 in. on the 2013 model, arguably as a result of the new exterior design, with the spindle grille that is the new look of Lexus undoubtedly contributing to the minor extension. What’s more, both the 2013 and the 2012 LS 460 have the same 1UR-FSE 4.6-liter V8 engine, although the 2013 version, at 386 hp, is six more than its predecessor. And both have the AA80E (rear-wheel-drive) or AA80F (all-wheel-drive) eight-speed sequential shift automatic transmission. But as Satoru Ohsake, assistant chief engineer for the LS, points out, “There are more than 3,000 new parts out of 6,000 total, not counting nuts and bolts.” So if you make that many changes, isn’t it a new generation?) Impossible? Or just not expected?