For the longest time, whenever the term ‘luxury car' was used, only two brands come to mind - Mercedes-Benz and BMW.
And though BMW had a more sporting drive, Mercedes-Benz was the definitive luxury car of choice of corporate tyrants and political despots.
So in 1983, Toyota's chairman, Eiji Toyoda, posed a question to the company's top executives, "Can we create a luxury vehicle to challenge the very best?"
To make a long story short, after six years of intense research and over $1 billion in development costs, the chairman's question was answered with the unveiling of Toyota's new luxury marque and its flagship model, the Lexus LS 400. Since then, the luxury car landscape has been altered.
But Lexus didn't stop there as a slew of vehicles quickly followed from the luxury brand, like the mid-size ES and the sporty GS models, the SC coupe, the LX SUV, the crossover RX, and the compact IS models.
And, in today's environmentally-responsible times, Lexus also became the first luxury car brand to unveil a hybrid version of its petrol-powered vehicles with the unveiling of the RX Hybrid with the GS and LS hybrids following in rapid succession.
It took Toyota Motor Philippines (TMP) 20 long years to bring the brand to the Philippines. But it only took that long because, just like how the LS 400 came to be, TMP carefully did its homework by studying the market and other variances. That only goes to show that Lexus is dead serious about doing business in the Philippines, not like other luxury marques that jumped ship in the name of "restructuring."
Lexus Manila president Danny Isla is conservative about the brand's performance on its first year in the country as he foresees sales ranging from 200 to 300 units.
"The brand is still new in the Philippines so we have no form of comparison to gauge our performance against with," he said.
Still, with the state of the global economy nowadays, Lexus' entry to the Philippines only speaks of the brand's confidence in the market.
Read more about the Lexus in the March issue of Top Gear Philippines.