Luxury carmakers take to the seas – and Lexus leads

2 min read

High-end car manufacturers have often sought to express their design skills – and perhaps their place at the top of the luxury tree – but offering their take on some or other sea-going craft. These rarely go beyond the press release and some nice CAD illustrations. But Lexus seem to be taking it much more seriously.

Toyota’s top marque has announced that it plans to start selling a 20m super-lux yacht next year – to the US market initially. The yacht will have room for 15 guests, three bedrooms with washrooms, crew quarters and the like. What’s more, it’s set to look every bit like a Lexus on the water – sleek and dark. And, while a price hasn’t been announced, comparable craft are in the US$3m-plus category.

That Lexus intends to actually produce this yacht – rather than talking about it – might be a response to the fact that its standing in the car market has been slipping of late – or, rather, the middle-market has been driving consistently upwards – and pushing into a new market altogether might be the solution. It can utilise the might of its parent company, its own design prowess and an established name to make waves, instead of wheels, so to speak. Throw in the rise of autonomous cars and dipping a toe in yacht-building makes even more sense.

It’s been eight years since Lexus ended an astounding decade-long run as the US’s top-selling luxury car brand. It’s made attempts at a comeback, recently launching a compact SUV, a sedan and a new sportswear to its line-up. And, in fact, it’s referring to the new yacht as the fourth product in this new line-up. That’s to say that the intention seems to be for Lexus to recast itself as a purveyor of all things luxury, rather than just automotive.

And it’s not alone: you can expect more and more car-makers to shift sideways into other comparable product lines. Aston Martin has recently entered this market; a couple of years ago Mercedes started to sell a limited-edition yacht; BMW has offered up concepts for the last few years; Bugatti too. It’s only Lexus – so far – that says it’s going full ahead on production.

It looks to be an impressive boat too. Details are scant, but the LY 650, as it’s dubbed, will be built by Marquis-Larson Boat Group, in Wisconsin, which has an impressive track record with the kind of craft that certainly stand out. In decades to come perhaps Lexus will be better known as a boat brand than a car brand.

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