Car companies trying to break into the yacht market is not a new phenomenon. Not by a long shot. Akio Toyoda, president of Lexus’ parent company Toyota, aims to achieve what so many before him have failed to do: add a successful yacht division to a burgeoning portfolio.
To bring his dream of launching a yacht line to fruition, Toyoda tapped the Wisconsin-based Marquis Yachts. This unconventional marriage didn’t spring up overnight. It was a long courtship between Toyoda and former Marquis Yachts CEO Rob Parmentier.
“I worked with Toyoda back when I was at Sea Ray,” says Parmentier. “Since 1999, I was looking into this partnership.” Twenty years later, the intrepid CEO says the timing was finally right. “Anytime you can combine the passions of people, you’re going to get something special. It turns out that we have more in common than we have apart. Our cultures are similar. Where we’re closest is in our work ethic and wanting to do the right thing.”
Toyoda didn’t simply place an order with Marquis Yachts for a 65-footer and wait for his meal to be delivered. If he’s going to put the Lexus name on something, he’s going to be the head chef; he sent supervisors from his company to live in Wisconsin and be on hand to oversee every step of the build.
The collaboration didn’t stop with the Marquis Yachts and Toyota teams. That would be too easy. For input on the interior design, they tapped noted Italian designers Nuvolari Lenard.
The salon passes the eye test. Inspect as I might, from the aft galley to the helm to starboard, I can’t spot a single, solitary right angle. Clearly, rounded edges and curves were in the design brief that Toyoda gave Nuvolari Lenard. Walking forward, the Lexus logo is subtly ingrained in the carpet floor of the salon; a reminder of the shared DNA with the auto giant.
Stepping from the salon to the three staterooms below, I stop at a corner nook beside the middle of the flight of stairs. It seems like an odd spot to find an Isotherm wine fridge and Miele coffee station. The location makes more sense after I see the massive amidships master with an athwartships berth and a sweeping sofa. It’s a proper lounge hidden from prying eyes dockside (there are going to be gawkers with a boat like this) and the perfect spot to hide away with a cup of coffee or a glass of wine.
When setting out on this new, waterborne endeavor, Akio Toyoda’s goal for the 650 was to achieve what the Japanese call omotenashi. In a word, it symbolizes how the Japanese value attention to detail and how they try to anticipate the needs of their guests.
Will Lexus succeed where so many automakers have failed before? Can a car manufacturer become a major player in the yacht market? I think it just might—and not because Lexus came to market with some flashy, out-of-the-box concept. I think they’ll be successful because they decided to not go at it alone; they knew they were inexperienced in this field, and tapped proven partners to help. Choosing a boatbuilding partner like Marquis Yachts gives this new line a sturdy foundation; utilizing Nuvolari Lenard’s design expertise was a brushstroke of brilliance. That’s how you build a boat with omotenashi. —Daniel Harding Jr.
Displ. 73,500 lbs.
Fuel 1,000 gal.
Water 225 gal.
Power 2/800-hp Volvo Penta IPS1050
Cruise Speed 22 knots
Top Speed 37 knots