It’s difficult to imagine a motoring world without Lexus. But when Toyota Motor Corp. launched its premium brand in the U.S. on Sept. 1, 1989, most industry watchers were skeptical Lexus could compete with the Germans, the uncrowned kings of luxury, or the sales-leading Americans. “I remember reading comments made by the likes of Eberhard von Kuenheim (managing director) from BMW (AG) back then,” says Joe Phillippi, president-AutoTrends Consulting in Short Hills, NJ. “He regarded ...

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