There is just one significant blank on the worldwide sales map of Toyota's luxury marque Lexus - its home nation of Japan.

Elsewhere on the globe Lexus is up there alongside BMW, Mercedes, Audi and Jaguar. Not so in the domestic market of the globe's second largest automaker, where the Lexus brand is unknown.

As of August 30, however, 143 Lexus-dedicated showrooms will open across the nation, targeting wealthy individuals who either have purchased a luxury import or might consider such a purchase. About 200,000 luxury cars are sold annually in Japan - all of them currently imports.

Lexus' move into the indigenous Japanese market is partly driven by concern that the nation's population is forecast to undergo a decreasing trend as from 2007.

But equally, it has woken up to the fact that it can capitalize on the success of the Lexus brand in the US luxury market, exporting to its homeland the cachet of 'foreign luxury'. In 2006 Toyota expects domestic sales of between 50,000 to 60,000 Lexus models.

It also aims to sell 500,000 Lexus cars worldwide next year.

Data sourced from Asahi Shimbun Online; additional content by WARC staff