Posts Tagged ‘LC 500’

“Lexus” = “Boring”? Never Again Says Akio Toyoda

Posted by Stephen On Wednesday, January 20th, 2016

Akio Toyoda, CEO of both Toyota and Lexus, tells a story of how he has received letters that complain that the Lexus car brand is boring. This guy is the grandson of the company’s founder, which says something. Toyota runs in his family. More than that, it runs in his blood.

Akio says he “took them to heart,” and he’s “ensuring that the word ‘boring’ and Lexus’ will never occupy the same sentence very again.”

Lexus bling grill

Truth be told, we’ve heard this rhetoric before – five years ago, to be exact, on the Pebble-Beach Concourse d’Elegance at the launch of another ‘boring’ Lexus, this time, the fourth-generation GS sedan. Back then, the occasion marked the new look of the spindle grille, fresh air intake design, and the very curves that make ‘Lexus’ synonymous with ‘luxury.’

The motor vehicle giant has enjoyed 11 years of market leadership in the United States, but then, just like now, there is evidence that points to Toyota fighting a losing battle against the Germans.

Germany is home to the Mercedez-Benz, Audi and BMW. Not only have they made better-looking cars, but their cars were more interesting and exciting to drive.
Don’t get me wrong here. Lexus is still the market leader in quality, gas efficiency, trunk space and all-around engineering qualities. But that didn’t matter anymore. Other, much cheaper vehicles were figuring out how to to it too, and all of a sudden, Lexus didn’t stand out anymore.

For Akio that wasn’t good enough.

Akio Toyoda is a race car driver. It’s not just in his family – it’s in his blood, remember? He knew that Lexus needed a jolt. He knew what Lexus needed. He wasn’t about to let his brand take second place to anybody without a fight.

In short, Lexus needed a car that wasn’t just synonymous with luxury but was fun to drive. Lexus engineers needed to give drivers a reason to smile. They’ve done it before; there’s no reason they can’t do it again.

Aiko charged Koji Sato, deputy chief engineer at Toyota, with the job. According to him, his speech five years ago on Pebble Beach merely marked a starting point for the company.
They both were thinking the same thing.

He wasn’t being charged with upgrading a car. He was being charged with making a whole new generation of Lexus.

Sato took this tall order to heart and realized that he needed something more than his current team could offer. He thought outside the box and looked beyond the borders of his corporate office for help. What he did was nothing short of revolutionary.

He hand-picked a team that would later become to be called his ‘irregular army.’ It consisted of a small group of race car drivers, journalists and car dealers.
For Lexus, the strategy was more than risky. It was more than bold. It was genius.

And, it was exactly what Sato was looking for.

Sato placed the entire company in jeopardy of exposing the entire project by doing this. The team persevered through every logistical difficulty an undertaking like this could have presented. The test team coordinated three unique driving events in the United States.

This was the beginning of the 2018 Lexus LC 500. This was the beginning of a whole new generation of Lexus.

The prototype has been created. It’s been driven. It was completely covered in disguise tape, with its interior panels draped in such a way as to keep the entire project under wraps. The vehicle was only a concept car, but it was driven in Rose Bowl Stadium of Pasadena, California.

It sports a 10-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters. Its 5.0-liter, V-8 engine produces 467 horsepower at 7100 RPM and 389 pound-feet of torque at 4800 RPM. It makes 0-60 in 4.5 seconds flat.

In short, it is awesome. It is fun to drive. It put a smile the drivers’ faces.

Sato is pleased, but his work is far from over. “We have got the basics right,” says Sato, “but it’s the last 10 percent that is so difficult.”

The LC 500 is nearing the end of the engineering phase, and, as such, Sato’s ‘irregular army’ has disbanded by now. The engineering team has a lot on their hands this year. Aiko is scheduled to drive the vehicle in late February this year.

Let’s hope the boss likes it. We’re rooting for Sato.


Toyota News: LC 500 Name Trademarked, Increased Mirai Production

Posted by Stephen On Wednesday, December 10th, 2014

Things are happening at Toyota this week… Big things! Chief among them are two breaking news stories:

First, last week we learned that Toyota already had an astounding 200 pre-orders for their Mirai fuel-cell sedan, and this week we’ve learned that Toyota is devoting an extra $165 million to the car’s initial production.

Second, the avid users over at Lexus Enthusiast – a popular Lexus-themed blog and forum – also found out this week that the premium Japanese automaker has filed trademarks for the Lexus LC 500 and LC 500h nameplate in several countries.

You can read more about both stories below:

Increased Toyota Mirai Production

2014 Lexus LF-LC Concept

The word from a popular Japanese newspaper, Nikkei, has informed us that Toyota plans to invest something in the ballpark of ¥20 billion – about $165 million – to more than triple domestic production. Toyota will reportedly deliver 700 Mirais (instead of just 200) by the end of 2015. Apparently, demand is so strong that even with this increased production capacity, Toyota still won’t be able to meet production demands.

As a reminder, the all-new Toyota Mirai goes on sale in Japan next Monday, December 15. Then, it’ll go on sale in the US and Europe in the summer of next year.

Along with the news of increased production, Nikkei also gave us an updated breakdown of exactly how many Toyota Mirai FCVs the Japanese automaker intends to sell in its first three years on the market. They want to sell:

  • 400 units in the Japan by the end of 2015
  • 50 – 100 units per year in Europe by the end of 2016
  • 3,000 units per year in the US by the end of 2017

Lexus Trademarks LC 500 & LC 500h Names

2016 Toyota Mirai FCV

Remember the Lexus LF-C2 Concept from last month’s LA auto show? So do we – it’s a hard car to forget. Thanks to the investigative users at the popular Lexus blog, Lexus Enthusiast, we’ve learned that the premium automaker has filed trademarks for both LC 500 and LC 500h in the US, Canada and Australia.

This means that the Lexus LF-LC and the LF-C2 Concepts were never meant to herald new RC F models or revived SC coupe models… Instead, it looks like the Lexus LC 500 and 500h will mark the beginning of a totally new nameplate for Toyota’s sub-brand. Furthermore, we can now assume that the Lexus LF-LC and LF-C2 production models will be the “exciting new cars” we were told to expect at next year’s Detroit Auto Show, and that they’ll run on the Lexus RC F’s 467hp 5.0L V8 engine.