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Lexus’ wet dream leaves a couple of (trade)marks

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Since its start in 1989, Toyota’s Lexus brand has been associated primarily with automobiles, with occasional detours into bicycles, hoverboards and Skyjets for sci-fi films.

Lest the world’s oceans feel abandoned in the quest for Experience Amazing, on 12 January 2017, Lexus unveiled the Sport Yacht Concept shown at right. At the time, Lexus was clear that “as a concept, the Lexus Sport Yacht revealed at Miami is a bespoke one-off project with no production intent”. By the time the nautical concept made its way from Miami to California to Tokyo, however, the carmaker had changed its tune somewhat. As reported by onetime Forbes (and Kaizen Factor Asia Editor) Bertel Schmitt:

…the “limited market for that kind of boat” is not what (Lexus President Yoshihiro Sawa) is after. Instead, Lexus is planning for a 60-foot superyacht in what is commonly called the “gin palace” segment…

“We have no plans to commercialize the 42-foot version, the 60-footer, we will definitely sell,” confirmed Toyota Marine boss Shigeki Tomoyama later. He dropped a rendering of the gin palace on the table, and did not mind at all when I snapped a picture (which appears at the top of this article).

…With the 60-ft Lexus super yacht, out in around 2020, Lexus will enter the American pleasure boat market, the world’s largest.

A couple of weeks later, Japan’s Asashi Shimbun added:

The automaker plans to release a speedboat under its luxury Lexus brand by 2020 to further expand its name-recognition from roadways to waterways…

Shigeki Tomoyama, a senior managing officer, said the company plans to develop an 18-meter-long speedboat based on the smaller trial (12.7-meter concept) version.

“A large-size boat would be profitable and have a synergetic effect on Lexus vehicles,” Tomoyama said. “We want to release it before the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2020.”

Further confirming this, on 20 February 2018, corporate parent Toyota filed U.S. trademarks that expanded its familiar Lexus luxury brand and its “Circle L” logo into “motor boats, yachts, and structural parts thereof” under Serial Numbers 87803541 and 87803767, respectively.

Admittedly, other luxury carmakers, such as Aston Martin, Bugatti, Jaguar and Mercedes-Benz, as well as Porsche and Ferrari and a Lamborghini dream or two have dabbled in the high-end yacht market. We should note, however, that Lexus has a distinct advantage over its would-be “auto-marine” rivals. Although the one-off Lexus Sports Yacht Concept was built by Marquis-Carver Yacht Group of Pulaski, Wisconsin, USA, Toyota’s multi-faceted non-automotive divisions include a Marine Department. As Bertel Schmitt reminds us:

(Lexus President Yoshihiro) Sawa takes exception when you tell him that Lexus is late getting in on the act. He pointed out to me that Toyota has been building boats for 20 years now, and that reliable Toyota engines often are marinized. Many Yanmar boat engines start as Toyotas.

Indeed, a cursory search of Toyota’s Global Newsroom will turn up news releases on Toyota Marine’s Ponam yacht line going back a couple of decades.

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