Mention Toyota (or Lexus) and the first thing that comes to mind is cars. That’s not surprising since the company has been making such products since 1936. However, the company actually started off in the 1920s as a manufacturer of automatic looms to weave fabrics. In the decades that followed, while motor vehicles became an increasingly larger part of its business, it also ventured into making houses and investing in non-automotive industries such as bio-technology and agriculture, aviation, broadcasting and health to support new value creation.
While land transport is the core business of Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC), it also ventured into the marine business in 1997 to produce boats using its expertise from the automotive industry. It is one of the largest makers of premium yachts in Japan and its Ponam line-up includes fibreglass sport-fishing boats and luxury cabin-cruisers which feature fully-welded aluminium alloy hulls, each powered by marine versions of the 3-litre or 4.4-litre turbodiesel engines similar to those in some Toyota and Lexus models.
A few years ago, the TMC’s President, Akio Toyoda, spent several days experiencing the new Ponam range of premium yachts. As the Chief Branding Officer of Lexus International (at that time), he also appreciated the potential of a stylish premium performance yacht to complement the Lexus lifestyle.
This led Toyota Marine to reimagine how a premium performance yacht might expand the Lexus brand into new areas of lifestyle and recreation. In January, 2017, Lexus revealed the result of this project: a running proof-of-concept for a Lexus Sport Yacht, in Miami Beach, Florida.
Lexus Design came up with the shape and the yacht was built in partnership with renowned boat manufacturers Marquis-Larson. The hull, inner structure and superstructure of the concept were made of hand-laid carbonfibre fabric, vacuum-infused with two-part polyurethane resin. It was powered by twin 5-litre V8 engines based on the 2UR-GSE high-performance engine of the Lexus RC F coupe, the GS F sport sedan and the LC 500.
While the Lexus Sport Yacht concept – which was given a special award by Japan’s Boat of the Year committee – was not intended to become a production model, it served as the basis for a premium yacht which the company will start selling worldwide from the second half of 2019.
“We’ve decided to take the next bold step of producing an all-new larger yacht that builds on the advanced nature of the concept while adding more comfort and living space,” said TMC Executive Vice-President, Shigeki Tomoyama, who is also responsible for the marine business.
While the concept was 12.7 metres long, the production version is planned to be almost 20 metres long as a larger sport fly-bridge cruiser with luxury staterooms below deck and entertaining space for up to 15 guests. Connected services using the company’s new mobility services platform will provide security, smartphone integration, remote diagnostics and maintenance and other services.