While Toyota controls 45% of the domestic auto market in its home country, it hasn't managed to make sashimi out of BMW and Mercedes-Benz when it comes to the nation's luxury market. In an effort to change public perception, the automaker has sent its Lexus sales force to charm school, teaching them how to smile, serve tea while kneeling and opening car doors as if they were samurai opening sliding screens for their masters. Due to the cost of real-estate in Nihon, luxury automakers have generally relied upon visiting the homes of the well-heeled. Lexus, on the other hand, has turned its 160 dealerships into destinations where customers are waited on hand and foot. Will the strategy take? Time will tell, but Toyota's already beginning to send salesfolk back for refresher courses.

The Samurai Sell [Wall Street Journal]

Unhappy With Deal, Customer Whips Out Samurai Sword [Internal]