Toyota ( TM ) was the first of Japan's big-3 autos to introduce its luxury brand to the Japanese domestic market, doing so last August. Honda (HMC) and Nissan (NSANY) have stated they will follow suit over the next few years.
So oddly enough until now Japanese auto consumers have had no connection or awareness of the Lexus brand. In order to compete in the higher profit margin luxury segment Toyota has gone all out to promote Lexus and especially to win customers over by providing excellent service. So far this hasn't worked as well as Toyota expected with monthly sales at about 80% of the 3,000 units per month target.
A number of mainstream Japanese business press media outlets have covered the Lexus story as the end of February was the 6-month point of Lexus' debut. There have been 13,622 total units sold to date. Toyota was hoping to have seen that number closer to 20,000. The reality is it is very late to market with its luxury line, far behind European rivals. The reactions out of Toyota have been mixed but the feeling is that Toyota will keep working at establishing the Lexus brand at home and will succeed with time. Toyota seems to realize that brand loyalty is not something you build overnight.
Toyota has high hopes of boosting its sales throughout this year as it plans to introduce a hybrid GS model this spring and its flagship LS model this August.
TM 1-yr chart: