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A Lexus 'is really only a Toyota'.

Byline: RAY MANAGH

A CAR brand's executive image came under the spotlight yesterday when a judge was told exactly what constitutes a Lexus.

Upmarket saloon models marketed with the prestige marque are actually Toyotas, the Circuit Civil Court was told.

Eamonn Gibbons, part owner and sales director of The Quality Carriage Company, said: "The Lexus sold in Ireland is a Toyota.

"These executive cars are built in Japan by the Toyota motor company and are sold there as Toyota cars."

He told Judge Esmond Smyth: "Lexus is a prestige name in Ireland where the marketing strategy initially was that people would not accept an up-market Toyota as a prestigious saloon."

Mr Gibbons was providing evidence in a case involving former government press officer Eoin Neeson.

Mr Neeson sued Aston Cars Ltd and its General Manager Brian Tobin for up to pounds 30,000 damages for allegedly misrepresenting to him that a Toyota Soarer 2.5litre turbo coupe was a Lexus.

Mr Gibbons told the court that 2.5litre, three-litre and four-litre Soarers were sold in the US as Lexus coupes, but no such car had ever been marketed in Ireland other than as a used Japanese imported Toyota.

Tony Kearns, a motor mechanic, said Mr Neeson, of Blackrock, Co Dublin, and not Mr Tobin had asked him to change the badges on the Toyota Soarer. Mr Neeson denied this.

However, following talks between the parties the proceedings were settled on the basis that Aston Cars Ltd and Mr Tobin pay Mr Neeson an "all-in" figure of pounds 13,500 which includes legal costs.

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ACTION: Eoin Neeson
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jul 20, 2001
Words:268
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