Attack on the Star Fleet
They should be the best cars in the world. Perfect luxury sedans who taught all premium manufacturer of Cadillac on Mercedes-Benz to Rolls-Royce to fear. In fact, Lexus and Infiniti in America achieved a lightning start 25 years ago. A success that the fine daughters of Toyota and Nissan in Europe so could not repeat.
" Japan's new super car! ", "Welt der Wunder " or " Uh-oh, Mercedes! New luxury Japanese - cheaper but just as good " were the respectful headlines in the German press to present the first luxury sedans under the logos of the new Nippon Nobel Labels Lexus and Infiniti. Toyota and Nissan have set up these fine brands and daughter left their flagships exactly 25 years ago at the Detroit Auto Show launched.
Both groups wanted to conquer North America, Toyota, however, had declared with Lexus from the beginning the world for the field. One objective of Infiniti in 2008 followed. So it was initially mainly the Lexus brand with the consciously desired name tone of luxury that could be attentive all the established premium manufacturers and also a declaration of war was to further promoted from the land of the rising sun. Finally, since 1986, there were as precious Acura division of Honda Mazda during his fine brand Xedos made ready in 1992. The Detroit opening party for the debutantes Lexus and Infiniti on a cold January day in 1989 was in any event a huge party that presented the new releases of Cadillac and Lincoln also sidelined as the fresh Audi V8 or the English aristocracy from Coventry and Crewe. In fact, the presentation of Japanese eight-cylinder was the successful overture to a reorganization of the decades-knit automotive hierarchies. At least in America. Here blew up the sales success particularly of Lexus even the highest expectations. In Europe, Infiniti and Lexus are still niche brands, Acura Honda is unknown, while the Mazda Xedos daughter completely flopped.
[Wp_ad_camp_1] What prompted the Japanese to attack the automobile needle segment, which was occupied until then by brands whose pedigree handed to the founding days of the automobile? Toyota CEO Eiji Toyoda was 1983 thrust ago when he called for the development of the best cars in the world. Applies but the construction of each best cars not only in Japan as a key to leave a company to new heights. Japan's number 2, Nissan followed two years later with the establishment of the development team "Horizon". Horizon should determine how the Mercedes-Benz S-Class and BMW 7 Series sedans were exceeded. First on the lucrative luxury car market, the US, and later in Europe and Germany, where Nissan unsuccessfully sought the rank of the largest Asian importer with five percent market share by 1995. Lexus wanted no less than luxury in complete perfection, as they did not even Rolls-Royce bot. The resulting customer satisfaction should be based on an own success story, especially since the first model was LS 400 (= Luxury Sedan with 4.0-liter V8) offered at competitive prices from 35,000 US dollars.
In fact, the Lexus LS was $ 19,000 cheaper than a BMW 735i with profane six-cylinder. Even more stark the difference in price compared to Mercedes: Here a class smaller 300 E still cost $ 10,000 more than the Nippon - V8, which also included a four-year warranty. Even the Infiniti Q45 called Nissan flagship status for sensationally low $ 38,000 in the list. For the almost 5.10-meter-long sedan offered a 204 kW / 278 hp 4.5-liter V8 with four-valve technology and innovative all-wheel steering.
Even more than the extensively tested on German motorways LS 400 the Q45 should be a dynamic driver's car. Every Infiniti was therefore tested extensively before customer delivery, the test rigs were working even up to a Vmax of 300 km / h. In a highly regulated American road everyday but grabbed at ( already illegal ) 240 km / h, a speed regulation a. Lexus allowed as German manufacturers up to 250 km / h, but stood with it in 1989 at the Frankfurt Motor Show to the European audience. As sensational was the Spurtfreudigkeit of Infiniti, the 100 - km / h - mark passed the standard sprint in seven seconds, and even held the twelve-cylinder BMW and Jaguar at a distance.
But affordable prices and high-performance motor never to score in the prestige class sufficed. Exclusivity and tradition have always been important. On tradition lacked the Japanese newcomers necessarily why they first ventured to start in the New World before ansetzten to leap across the Atlantic. Exclusivity examined the marks on the other hand by exceptional quality and exemplary service. So developed Lexus and Infiniti dealerships in the own architecture, in which the vehicles were presented as works of art. A noble ambition, which was later abandoned as diverse as traders simply freely granted part of their Toyota showroom for Lexus vehicles.
[ wp_ad_camp_1 ] The Americans however were enthusiastic about fully applicable to the new brand from Japan. In customer satisfaction studies Lexus and Infiniti were from the outset the very front and the sales figures were record-breaking. It also changed the hurry nachgeschoben, profane six-cylinder models Lexus ES 250, based on the Toyota Vista / Camry and derived from the Nissan Laurel / Leopard Infiniti M30 nothing. Lexus and Infiniti are still in vogue in America, although significantly more successful Lexus long acted. During the launch of the Germany Toyota subsidiary ran tough, Lexus was in the US in 1991 the number one in the luxury-class importers with more than 71,000 registrations. The following expansion of the model range - 1991 was followed by the Coupé SC, 1993, drawn by star designer Giugiaro sedan GS and LX SUV 1996 - 1997 Lexus overtook even the local top dogs Cadillac and Lincoln.
Unlike in Europe and Germany. Here, the press and customers once gained enthusiastic indeed also for reliability, service, almost unrivaled warranty of Lexus, almost perfect workmanship and complete standard equipment. But what Lexus and Infiniti is still missing are nationwide dealer networks as well as the awareness and fascination of the established elite Europeans - and so sales remain marginal.
In the first 20 years Lexus was just 43,000 German customers, less than Mercedes today achieved in two months. But the times were to be even harder for the Japanese: in 2013 came just 1,653 German Lexus registrations together. Infiniti - represented this country since 2009 - remains even at the level of Italian supercar. By this date also changed measures little as compact series by the Lexus IS ( starting from 1998 against the BMW 3 Series or Audi A4 ) and Lexus CT 200h (from 2011), the SUV (from 2000 Lexus RX, Infiniti EX and FX from Europe starting 2008), the pioneered by a hybrid offensive in all categories of vehicles, specially launched for Europe diesel models and the supercar Lexus LFA or begun in 2011 partnership between Infiniti and formula 1 team Red Bull Racing with Sebastian Vettel as Infiniti brand ambassador.
Germany remains for premium brands the hardest test in the world and that's why Lexus and Infiniti want to survive here. For this purpose they grow a pound of which could prove decisive in the end, no one has such a long breath as these two tireless Japanese carmaker.