Three Decades of Lexus World Firsts

11 November 2019

Lexus is constantly pursuing improvement – of our business, our processes and our products. In our commitment to always finding ways of improving what we do, we have become architects of innovation, constantly exploring new ideas and opportunities.

Our quest for improvement has delivered many world-first technologies. Here are 30 innovations we have brought to the global auto industry.

  1. THE FIRST LUXURY CROSSOVER: launched in 1998, the original Lexus RX 300 was the world’s first luxury crossover. It created a new market segment that today is contested by every major premium car manufacturer.
  2. WORLD’S FIRST HYBRID LUXURY CAR: in 2005, the RX 400h became the world’s first luxury hybrid vehicle, featuring a revolutionary powertrain that combined a 3.3-litre petrol V6 engine with a powerful electric motor. Together these produced 269bhp and a smooth, refined and quiet drive that was ideal for a premium quality vehicle.
  3. FULL HYBRID V8 POWERTRAIN: the LS 600h was the world’s first full hybrid V8 car when it was introduced in 2007, giving performance that rivalled a conventional V12 model.
  4. ADJUSTABLE STEERING WHEEL WITH INTEGRATED SRS AIRBAG: The 1989 Lexus LS 400 was the first car to feature a steering wheel with a supplementary restraint system airbag as well as a broad range of tilt and telescopic adjustment.
  5. CLIMATE CONCIERGE: Lexus Climate Concierge is a multi-zone climate control system with automatic adjustment of the cabin, seat, steering wheel heating and cooling systems ensuring optimal thermal comfort for each passenger at all times.
  6. SATELLITE NAVIGATION AS STANDARD: the European-specification 1998 LS 400 was the first car in the world to have a satellite navigation system fitted as standard.
  7. TORQUE-VECTORING DIFFERENTIAL: the RC F performance coupe is the world’s first front engine/rear-wheel drive sports car to feature a torque-vectoring differential. This uses a series of multi-plate clutches to distribute torque between the rear wheels.
  8. CLARIFI AUDIO TECHNOLOGY: the latest Mark Levinson premium audio systems designed specifically for Lexus models use ClariFi, a world-first technology that analyses and improves the quality of all types of compressed, digital music sources.
  9. REAR-WHEEL DRIVE LUXURY PERFORMANCE HYBRID: Lexus engineered the world’s first, mass-produced, rear-wheel drive luxury performance hybrid vehicle – the GS 450h of 2007.
  10. EIGHT-SPEED AUTOMATIC TRANSMISSION: The Lexus LS 460 marked the debut of the world’s first eight-speed automatic transmission in 2006. The unit would later be adapted for a variety of other rear-wheel drive Lexus models.
  11. A DEDICATED POWERTRAIN MANUFACTURING PLANT: Lexus’s Kokura plant in Japan is the world’s first manufacturing facility dedicated to the production of hybrid powertrains. The assembly line has a positive air pressure system to prevent airborne particles from contaminating any of the hybrid components.
  12. TWIN-CHAMBER FRONT PASSENGER AIRBAG: In 2005, the second generation Lexus IS became the first car in the world to be fitted with a twin-chamber front passenger airbag, designed to provide greater protection to the neck and shoulders in an impact.
  13. EFFICIENT HYBRID BATTERY RECYCLING: Lexus pioneered the recycling of nickel-metal hydride batteries from its hybrid vehicles and was the first manufacturer to adopt a system for recovering neodymium and dysprosium, rare earth metals used in the magnets in hybrid vehicle motors. Dedicated businesses have also been set up to recycle cemented carbide scraps into tungsten, which is then used to make highly resilient carbide tools.
  14. HYBRID DRIVETRAIN SILENCER PLATE: The intake tract of the Lexus Hybrid Drive powertrain in the CT 200h was designed with a special porous material for the world’s first silencer plate. The result is quieter ride, but with a pleasing engine intake note.
  15. BAMBOO STEERING WHEEL: the Lexus GS was the first car that could be specified with a steering wheel made from sustainable bamboo.
  16. REMOTE TOUCH INTERFACE JOYSTICK CONTROL: Lexus’s Remote Touch Interface was the world’s first controller to use a slide-type joystick mechanism. It functioned much like a computer mouse to operate the vehicle’s multimedia system.
  17. QUIET MARK AWARD FOR THE CT 200h: the CT 200h was the first car to be awarded the prestigious Quiet Mark by the UK’s Noise Abatement Society, in recognition of its contribution to a better aural environment.
  18. LOW-REFLECTION WINDSCREEN: the third generation LS 430 was fitted with a low-reflection windscreen. A special coating applied to the glass helped reduce glare in bright sunlight – a particular benefit in cars with light-coloured dashboards.
  19. LASER SCREW WELDING: laser screw welding is a technology that uses highly accurate laser beams to create perfect spot welds around panel joints, achieving the best possible accuracy and body stiffness. It was first introduced for production of the fourth generation LS model in 2007.
  20. ENGINE COMPONENT INTEGRATION: The 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine in the Lexus NX is the first in the world to combine a water-cooled cylinder head with an integral, four-into-two exhaust manifold and a twin-scroll turbocharger.
  21. UNPRECEDENTED SUCCESS IN J.D. POWER AND ASSOCIATES SATISFACTION SURVEYS: Providing a unique owner experience is of paramount importance for Lexus, resulting in an unparalleled track record in customer satisfaction surveys. For example in the UK in 2014, Lexus became the first car brand to top the annual WhatCar?/J.D. Power survey for 12 years in a row. In 2019, Lexus topped the US J.D. Power U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study for an eighth consecutive year.
  22. AERO-VENTILATING WHEELS: the advanced aerodynamic package designed for the Lexus UX compact crossover includes world-first aero ventilating wheels. These feature flaps on the spokes to regulate airflow and increase downforce, contributing to stable braking, better brake cooling and less turbulence along the side of the vehicle.
  23. ACTIVE STEERING ASSIST: The new Lexus LS 500h is equipped with the world’s first Active Steering Assist system, which can detect if an imminent collision can be avoided with automatic steering control. Besides alerting the driver and applying the brakes, the system is also able to steer around a car or a pedestrian to avoid an accident.
  24. DIGITAL SIDE VIEW MIRRORS: the new Lexus ES saloon was the first production vehicle to be fitted with digital side mirrors. Japanese market models are available with small cameras positioned on the front doors, which feed real-time images to five-inch monitors located inside the cabin, at the base of the front pillars. The cameras are designed to operate consistently in all weather conditions, and will automatically enhance the images shown when the turn signals are activated.
  25. FIRST ADVERTISING FILM SCRIPTED BY ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE: in 2018 Lexus commissioned the world’s first advertising film to be scripted using Artificial Intelligence. Driven by Intuition, directed by Oscar-winner Kevin MacDonald, was created for the European launch campaign for the new ES saloon.
  26. A DOCUMENTARY FILM LASTING 60,000 HOURS: Takumi – a 60,000-hour story on the survival of human craft is a documentary film that looks at the history and exceptional dedication to learning of the Japanese takumi Director Clay Jeter created a special 60,000-hour cut of the movie, matching the length of time a takumi is required to study their art to gain their special artisan status.
  27. THE LEXUS HOVERBOARD: in 2015 Lexus created the world’s first hoverboard to be powered by liquid nitrogen-cooled superconductors and permanent magnets. This remarkable feat of technical ingenuity and innovation was produced for Lexus’s Amazing in Motion campaign and was ridden around a specially designed track in Barcelona by champion skater Ross McGouran.
  28. AN ENGINE WITH THE WORLD’S HIGHEST THERMAL EFFICIENCY: the 2.5-litre petrol engine featured in the new ES 300h’s self-charging hybrid electric powertrain has a higher thermal efficiency than any other engine in its class. Rated at 41 per cent against a specific engine output of 52 kw/l, it is able to capture more of the energy potential from every drop of fuel used.
  29. BLADESCAN ADAPTIVE HIGH-BEAM SYSTEM: the new Lexus RX features the world’s first BladeScan-type adaptive high-beam system, a technology which uses a rotating blade-shaped mirror to achieve finer and wider illumination from LED headlights.
  30. 6 MILLION LUXURY HYBRID VEHICLES SOLD: Lexus was the first car maker to sell one million hybrid luxury vehicles, reaching this milestone in April 2016. By mid-2019 the global total had risen to more than 1.6 million.


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Three Decades of Lexus World Firsts


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