Toyota says to start making Lexus cars at Motomachi plant

TOKYO, July 3 Thu Jul 3, 2014 7:32am EDT

TOKYO, July 3 (Reuters) - Toyota Motor Corp will start making its luxury Lexus brand cars at its Motomachi plant in Japan in August, the automaker said on Thursday, expanding its production base as it seeks to boost both sales and the brand's status globally.

Toyota President Akio Toyoda placed the 25-year-old Lexus brand directly under his oversight last year and has vowed to make it into a premium marque recognised globally. Currently, about half of Lexus's global sales are made in the United States.

Toyota will shift production of the GS sedan for exports to Motomachi from the nearby Tahara plant in central Japan, while at the Tahara plant it will start manufacturing a new model, spokesman Ryo Sakai said.

Toyota currently makes Lexus vehicles at the Tahara and Miyata plants, as well as at its plant in Ontario, Canada. It will also start making Lexus vehicles at its Kentucky plant in the United States from summer 2015.

Toyota, the world's best-selling automaker, sold around 523,000 Lexus vehicles in 2013, up 10 percent from a year earlier. (Reporting by Yoko Kubota; Editing by David Holmes)