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AUTOSHOW-Lexus to hit record sales in 2013, aims 5-10 percent annual growth

Tuesday, 19 Nov 2013 | 10:49 PM ET

TOKYO, Nov 20 (Reuters) - Lexus is aiming for a steady 5 to 10 percent annual growth in the coming years, an executive said, as the luxury brand of the world's best-selling carmaker Toyota seeks to establish a more global presence in the premium market.

The company expects to sell a record 520,000 Lexus vehicles this year, up about 8 percent year-on-year. The United States last year accounted for about half of Lexus' global sales.

Lexus officials say despite the growth, the priority is building a stronger brand image rather than volume.

In a drive to boost its image, Lexus on Wednesday named for Akio Toyoda, the President of Toyota Motor Corp, "Chief Branding Officer and Master Driver". Toyoda is a race driver and a founding family scion.

"Right now, he (Toyoda) says sales aren't important, profits aren't important, it's all about building a foundation for the future. So we are trying to build through the next 30 years," said Mark Templin, Lexus Executive Vice President, at the Tokyo Motor Show.

In April, Toyoda changed the structure of the carmaker and placed Lexus among the four pillars of its core business areas.

Since then, he has been at the forefront of promoting the brand, making appearances in hip suits and retro glasses and has said his founding family status puts him in a unique position to promote the luxury cars.

Toyoda has also been giving direct orders and suggestions for various Lexus events and sits in a monthly discussion on Lexus marketing strategy, Lexus President Kiyotaka Ise said.

Lexus unveiled the new RC coupe and concept compact SUV LF-NX at the Tokyo motor show on Wednesday.

(Reporting by Yoko Kubota; Editing by Jeremy Laurence)

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