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Interesting article By Yuri Kageyama / AP Business Writer (as reported in The Detroit News):

What's a Lexus? Toyota faces a challenge selling its luxury brand in Japan
The Lexus luxury brand is one of Toyota Motor Co.'s big overseas successes. But to the Japanese, the brand name doesn't mean much.

"I'd rather have a BMW," said Takahiro Hiruma, a 41-year-old public servant who now drives a Nissan minivan. "The BMW's got a better image."

That's because Lexus actually has no image in Japan. While nearly two million Lexuses have been bought abroad, most of them in the United States, it is a name Toyota never has used in its home country. The company has sold similar models in Japan, but under names like Harrier, Windom and Celsior.

In an acknowledgment that the auto market is becoming a global one, Toyota plans to start selling the Lexus brand in Japan for the first time in 2005. Its booth at the Tokyo auto show this week featured sport utility and sleek, futuristic versions of the car.

Toyota, based in Toyota City, in central Japan, is considering opening anywhere from 150 to 180 outlets nationwide to sell a still-undecided Lexus lineup.

The goal for the homecoming is clear: Take advantage of a brand that has grown in the last 14 years to take Toyota to greater heights to rival the standings of Mercedes Benz or BMW.

"Lexus has become a U.S. brand. My mission is to make it a global brand," said Takeshi Yoshida, managing officer overseeing the Lexus. "By doing that, the Toyota brand will also be upgraded."

Japanese tend to have a soft spot for imports, be they Louis Vuitton handbags, Remy Martin brandy and Porsche sports cars.

So they may just be sold on the Lexus as an import of sorts, although most Lexuses are still manufactured in Japan and Toyota, despite its global prowess, remains as Japanese as a company can get.

Toyota officials won't say how many Lexus cars they hope to sell in the first year or how much they expect the brand will add to Toyota's already soaring profits. But they do say launching the Lexus in Japan isn't just about image; it's part of a clear business strategy to sell more cars.

Global branding has been on the rise lately, and the auto industry is actually a latecomer to the marketing trend.

Nissan Motor Co., Toyota's domestic rival, is using its "Shift" slogan in all of its advertising worldwide, to underline a company undergoing change.

Mazda Motor Corp., based in Hiroshima, has chosen "Zoom zoom" to highlight the sporty, fun-to-drive quality of Mazda cars.

Global branding doesn't necessarily save money, because advertising and promotion still must be tailored to each region. But in an increasingly mobile world, where people and information travel quickly, a uniform message is seen as more effective.

"With the world becoming more seamless in terms of what one sees and associates with over broadcast and the Internet, it's no longer simple to distinguish where a market ends and another starts," says Shuri Fukunaga, managing director at global communications consulting company Burson-Marsteller in Tokyo.

Whether the Lexus will take off in its own home is still unclear. But if track record is any indicator, Toyota is likely to have a good chance. The company controls about 40 percent of Japan's auto market and dominates the best-seller list here.

Still, the company expects building the brand in Japan to take time. Judging by less-than-enthusiastic response of onlookers at the auto show, they are probably right.

"I don't get it," said Tomohiro Matsushita, a 24-year-old driving instructor who drives a Honda Step Wagon minivan. "I've heard of it, and it looks cool, and maybe it will be one of the models I'll consider buying. That's about it."
 

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i dont think its going to work....

just like nissan will never use the infiniti badge.. or honda using the acura badge...
 

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I don't think it's gonna work either. For starters...."Lexus" is even hard to pronounce for most Japanese speakers.

...Hmmm...maybe WE'VE been saying it wrong all along!
 

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SeattleSheila said:
I don't think it's gonna work either. For starters...."Lexus" is even hard to pronounce for most Japanese speakers.

...Hmmm...maybe WE'VE been saying it wrong all along!
actually it'll be re-branded as Rexus in Japan... :lol:
 

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Rexus Aye-Esse San-Hyaku (300 in Japanese)
 

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that's the exact reason why Ford did not brought Halden (or holden? how do u spell the name of that v8 super 4dr ? ) into the states... :x
 

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If Japanese people are already buying the Harrier & Celsior, etc then there's really no need for Lexus in Japan. Lexus was launched in North America because people here don't want to pay a premium price for a non-premium brand car.
 

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Toyota City? :eek:

Which is named for which? :lol:
 

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IS300eR said:
that's the exact reason why Ford did not brought Halden (or holden? how do u spell the name of that v8 super 4dr ? ) into the states... :x
Maybe Ford didn't bring any Holdens to the United States because Holden is owned by General Motors.... :-?
 

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The Chief said:
IS300eR said:
that's the exact reason why Ford did not brought Halden (or holden? how do u spell the name of that v8 super 4dr ? ) into the states... :x
Maybe Ford didn't bring any Holdens to the United States because Holden is owned by General Motors.... :-?
oh i thought it's ford... hmm... austrailians are weird, who knows... :crazy:
 

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I don't know to me I think Toyota brand stands for reliability. I think Toyota is making a mistake trying to introduce Lexus in Japan IMO
 

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SeattleSheila said:
I don't think it's gonna work either. For starters...."Lexus" is even hard to pronounce for most Japanese speakers.

...Hmmm...maybe WE'VE been saying it wrong all along!
That's true. Most of Japanese words end with a vowel. If not, the pronunciation sounds offensive to them.
 

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buister said:
SeattleSheila said:
I don't think it's gonna work either. For starters...."Lexus" is even hard to pronounce for most Japanese speakers.

...Hmmm...maybe WE'VE been saying it wrong all along!
That's true. Most of Japanese words end with a vowel. If not, the pronunciation sounds offensive to them.
"Lexusu" then. :lol:
 
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