In a step toward possibly moving Lexus' global headquarters out of Japan, the automaker has decided to transfer its global marketing functions from Japan to a new decision-making center in Torrance, California.
According to Automotive News, the shift begins in January with the creation of an office at Toyota Motor Sales USA Inc.'s campus in Torrance. It will handle creative marketing and some brand communications worldwide, said Karl Schlicht, head of Lexus' global product and marketing planning division.
The decision was made last summer and only one person has been appointed to open the unit. The automaker plans to expand staff to three in January.
Executive Vice President Yukitoshi Funo said the move is part of Lexus' attempt to remake itself as a "transnational" -- rather than Japanese -- brand.
Lexus aims to bolster its brand image by strengthening its performance credentials and assuming a more international flavor.
As an example of the new mentality, one executive cited the decision not to serve sushi or offer chopsticks at a Lexus dinner reception held in advance of the Tokyo Motor Show. He said: "We don't want to be blatantly Japanese."