Toyota had made and sold luxury cars in Japan for some time, but it was clear that those cars weren't going to cut it in the competitive U.S. market. Besides, Toyota just wasn't an "aspirational" brand in this country. So Toyota went for something all-new.
The Lexus LS400 and the smaller ES250 went on sale in the fall of 1989. Lexus' big opportunity to make a name for itself came quickly. After less than a year, Toyota had to recall every Lexus car to correct a cruise control malfunction.
Inconveniencing your customers with a recall is usually not the way to build a reputation. But it is when the dealer calls you personally to inform you about the recall, then offers to pick the car up at your home or office, fixes it and promptly returns the car with a fresh shine, a full tank of gas and maybe a little gift to help you forget the trouble.
Lexus has maintained a stellar record for quality over the years - a major point of distinction from European brands - so the corporate budget for "sorry" gifts is probably fairly small.