Lexus Is Building a Mountain Lair For its First Independent Headquarters

Until now, Lexus has occupied offices scattered around Toyota HQ. A new multi-billion-dollar campus seeks to change that.

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Image: Toyota

Lexus is reportedly building a secret mountain lair. In fact, it’s so secretive that the company talked to Automotive News about it.

Named the Shimoyama complex, this new facility will be Lexus’s first fully independent world headquarters, slated to open in March of 2023. The new mothership is meant to change the way the company develops cars and help push Lexus into the electrified future. Executives say it will make Lexus a leader in the global EV race, according to Automotive News:

“This is a next chapter initiative to improve the vehicle fundamentals, sharpen the Lexus Driving Signature and evolve design in harmony with functionality,” Lexus President Koji Sato told Automotive News about the new undertaking. “The core value is how to design and create cars that generate a desire among people to own that vehicle.”

For the first time, everyone involved with devising, developing, designing and deploying Lexus vehicles will be under the same roof, right next to their testing facilities and garages — from designers and engineers to purchasing, production and sales management, and even technicians sent by suppliers.

“Now we have an environment where we can really focus on Lexus,” Sato said.

Since its founding in 1989, Lexus has lived in a collection of offices scattered about Toyota’s headquarters. The new Shimoyama complex will mark the first time Lexus gathers all its departments in one bespoke facility.

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The location of this new facility is a bit strange, to say the least. The two-tower campus is being built in a corner of the new 1,600-plus-acre, $2.22-billion Toyota Technical Center Shimoyama. It’s nestled in mountains filled with cedar and cypress forests, about 30 minutes from Toyota’s corporate headquarters in Toyota City.

The only way to get there is by driving down a two-lane road that winds through rice fields and Japanese cherry blossom groves before climbing up a mountain pass.

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According to Automotive News, this move might be intended as a clean break, as Lexus works to transform into an electric-only carmaker in Europe, China and the U.S. by 2030, hoping to sell 1 million EVs a year. Five years after that, the company plans to be EV-only worldwide.

Lexus better get going soon. Unlike rivals such as Mercedes-Benz, Audi, Genesis and BMW, Lexus has not yet launched a dedicated electric vehicle. That being said, the company’s first EV, the Lexus RZ, is slated to arrive a bit later this year. From Automotive News:

“It’s not a top EV brand at peer level yet,” said Takaki Nakanishi, head auto analyst at Nakanishi Research Institute in Tokyo. Lexus’ traditional brand promise, he said, is trust, reliability and safety.

“That is what has been demanded by loyal Lexus drivers,” Nakanishi said. “Lexus has a chance now to create a new ‘Lexus-ness’ in moving into electrification.”

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This is what Lexus is internally calling the “Next Chapter” of brand development for the company.

“We didn’t use to have this kind of activity. We didn’t talk to each other,” Lexus design boss Suga told Automotive News. “Now we all gather together and create a consistent Lexus signature.”