• Jul 10, 2007
That "Relentless Pursuit of Perfection" thing isn't just a slogan at Lexus apparently. According to this Automotive News piece, Lexus really means it. Nowhere is it more evident than at the plant where Toyota builds its flagship Lexus LS600h L. Seeing themselves in an arms race of perfection, Lexus has taken perfection to an obsession. The workers are trained and retrained and re-retrained to focus on perfection. And we're not talking about the way a Formula 1 team might rehearse pitstops. We are talking about stuff like building finger strength with special plastic webbing trainers, arranging lip-gloss containers "to develop an eye for tints and color," developing a feel for five instead of six bolts in the hand, learning the sound of a properly torqued bolt. Amazing.

Workers have to go through extensive training, including lectures and computer simulations, in addition to the physical dexterity training. And that training gets tougher and tougher to identify different skill levels. Only 300 current workers at the plant have the highest Level 1 certification. But that doesn't guarantee anything. Every four months the workers have to go through the skills tests all over again. And no matter how good the worker's skills are, there's still that old saying about cleanliness being next to godliness to contend with. Follow the jump to hear more about the whole perfection equation at Lexus.

[Source: Automotive News, sub. req.]

Signs are posted to remind workers how to dress. Hairnets might make sense in the paintshop, but Lexus even requires them in the engine-assembly plant. Air showers are even used at the engine plant, just like in a semiconductor facility. Although they don't require booties, they do want clean shoes too. Suppliers are even given guidelines that limit dirt and debris from their deliveries. That might seem like overkill in some ways, but the attention pays off apparently.

Besides the focus on workers' cleanliness and training, the finished product is also scrutinized like no other. Lexus tests every single car. When they determined that the previous generation LS deviated up to 50 cm over a 100 m path, they went to work and identified areas of unnecessary variables and streamlined the design. The new one cut that variance in half, and every single LS600 hL that leaves the line is given a white glove road test at 56 mph to see that it meets the new standard. The test driver also checks the other mechanicals and build integrity during a full shakedown run.

Lexus also employs twice as money inspectors as the typical Toyota plant, which is already among the industry leaders. The combination of the best trained workers working in a clean environment, the end product being inspected by skilled human inspectors using the latest in computerized analysis guarantees that these top-of-the-line Lexi are truly world-class. At $100,000, we expect owners of the LS will appreciate this kind of attention to perfection, even if they don't know what is happening behind the scenes along the assembly line.


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  • 42 Comments
      • 7 Years Ago
      I think other manufacturers could learn from this. Seriously. But I still hate Lexus. They may be world class cars for people who hate cars, but they do NOT have a soul. Please do not EVER compare them to BMW. And I don't care how many BMWs have been to the dealership for repairs (which would be free for the first 4 years/50,000 miles), Lexus is vanilla luxury for vanilla masses. The 1st generation IS (Toyota Altezza) was the closest they got to a car that had a feel for the road. Btw, we have a 1994 325i with 235,000 miles and a 2 year-old X3 that has 49,000 miles and it's only been in for oil changes and tires, so I guess that disproves the theory that all BMWs are unreliable POS. Sorry, I just needed to make that clear.
      • 7 Years Ago
      My fiancee's GX470 doesn't display the same level of finish and absolute quality of a new LS, but it is apparent that Lexus considers itself on a different level when it comes to their vehicles and how they treat their customers. The wood trim, for instance, has a sheen that is remarkable and unlike any I have seen in any other vehicle. My lady is tough on her vehicle (parking garage paint scrapes, damaged carpet from her high heeled shoes digging in), but the dealer has fixed everything, no problem. Even the paint scrapes -- gratis. It's as if they're saying "When you drive one of our cars, we've got your back." I'm not a Lexus guy, but I can't argue with this level of customer satisfaction. When I get my M3, I can't imagine BMW service being this great.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Lexus' marketing flacks got more mileage out of this puff piece than a New York taxi. It's about the sixth time I've seen it.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Hey "made in Detroit," thanks for the link, those are great commercials for the CTS, I'll pass it on. I especially like the Leno.
      • 7 Years Ago
      People are way too much into specific brands on this blog (and other blogs for that matter).

      Posters here seem zealot-like in their admiration for certain brands. Maybe the following link explains why. They are being paid for it!

      Check this out...it could really ruin blogging.

      http://payperpost.com/
      • 7 Years Ago
      Yay... the only Lexus plant (or plant that builds Lexus) outside of Japan is in Cambridge, Ontario (Canada)! No freakin' UAW/CAW slacks there... there, you have you **EARN** your place on the Lexus line.. its not a UAW/CAW given right.
      • 7 Years Ago
      If my Moto Q got stolen, I would not blame Motorola. If my Sylvania taillight blew out, I would not blame the Chevy it's in. Granted, it's mostly fluff. But nobody is slouching these days. Hyundai had the first plant to be certified to ISO/TS 16949 for crying out loud. I'm not a Lexus fanboy at all, I hate Toyota as a matter of fact, but you have to give credit where credit is due. Lexus doesn't make inspiring cars, and their buyers tend to be just as boring. But they do what they are designed to do very well. You can't buy a Lexus and be disappointed with it's handling. That's like buying a Ford GT and complaining about the way it takes a bump.
      • 7 Years Ago
      This Lexus/Toyota quality thing is a little overdone. Have you look in Edmund's forums/user reviews concerning Toyota transmissions? The new Camry's are not made well according to many long time Toyota buyers. And this Lexus thing must only be for the LS. My wife got a brand new IS350 and the driver's side mirror was warped! I guess you don't have to have good vision, just strong fingers to be a Lexus worker. On top of that her dash rattles as well. In fact Toyota knows it's quality is dropping, and to their credit they are taking steps to correct. Don't get me wrong, I think Lexus makes great cars, but they aren't as flawless as the media would have you believe - and I'm not talking nitpicking, I'm talking warped mirrors and dash rattles.

      • 7 Years Ago
      I'm looking at a G35X or an IS250. Both look extremely well built. You can tell that both companies put a lot of work into fit and finish.

      Only time will tell if the quality is really there.

      After numerous problems in the VW/AUDI camp I can say that quality is hard to assess by looking at the car. When I bought my last VAG product, I thought "Gee, these guys really sweat the details"....unfortunately after a couple painful years, I realized that the quality was only skin deep.
        • 7 Years Ago
        I agree with your assessment of VW but don't place it in the same sentence as an Audi. Yes it does own Audi, Bentley, Bugatti, and Lamborghini but lets face it, its hardly the same. VW has been building cars in Peublo,Mexico and there cars have been near the bottom of JD Powers reliability tests. All of Audis cars are made in their own plants in Europe, including Ingolstadt and Gyor. According to JD Powers Audi leads ALL other European cars for reliability. I have no reason to discount that statement as I have had 8 of them and have recomended them to others who absolutely love them.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Have you driven an Audi with a turbo. They go out at about 80,000 if you engine doesn't start leaking oil first. I don't know what Audis you have driven but my experience has been they are almost as bad as the VW's which they are based on. Audi's are 40K + VW's nothing more. (R8 the exception)
        • 7 Years Ago
        Actually according to JD Power Jaguar leads all European makes in reliability.

        http://www.jdpower.com/corporate/news/releases/pressrelease.aspx?ID=2006133

        And is one behind Mercedes for Initial Quality

        http://www.jdpower.com/corporate/news/releases/pressrelease.aspx?ID=2007088
      • 7 Years Ago
      This is a PR press release, right?
        • 7 Years Ago
        Definitely a PR release or paid advertisement.
      • 7 Years Ago
      http://www.cadillac.com/cadillacjsp/footer/downloads.jsp


      Watch Videos titled CRAFTSMANSHIP and HEART. There you will find Caddy!
      • 7 Years Ago
      "twice as money inspectors as the typical Toyota plant"

      what are money inspectors? You're doing a puff piece about quality and you don't even proofread your work.

      Nonsensical cheerleading is bad enough, at least get the grammar right honey.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Totally agree. This article (loose term) is full of crap.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Sounds like someone is pissy that their Ford Tempo didn't get the attention to detail that Lexus does.
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