Lexus wants Bayerische Motoren Werke AG and Mercedes-Benz car buyers to know it can be more than just dependable.

To promote the revamped GS series, Lexus said that Sports Illustrated model Tori Praver helped to inspire a track challenged by American car-racing ace Scott Pruett, while armchair drivers keen to join in the action can get the Tori 500 app for the iPhone and iPad. The publicity helped Lexus sell more than 4,900 GS cars in the U.S. within two months of its introduction, exceeding sales for all of 2011.

It's part of an effort by Lexus to separate itself from parent Toyota Motors Corp.'s stable -- at least a little -- and come up with a global strategy that gives BMW and Mercedes-Benz owners a reason to switch.

"To conquer BMW and Mercedes drivers, we can't just be looked at as an upgraded version of Toyota," said Kiyotaka Ise, who took the helm of Lexus in 2007. "We want our brand to be chosen for its character and handling."

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Lexus Says Riding On Being An Upgraded Toyota No Longer Works - Needs A New Plan

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