Toyota Motor Corp is gearing up to launch a Lexus dealer network in China to tap demand from the growing number of high-income earners there for luxury cars, a report said on Monday.

Citing the Nihon Keizai Shimbun newspaper, Agence France-Presse said Toyota will become the first Japanese carmaker to establish an exclusive marketing channel for luxury cars in China.

With the new network for Lexus, Toyota aims to boost its Chinese market share almost fivefold to 10% by 2010, the newspaper reportedly said.

Before the end of this year, Toyota plans to open several Lexus dealerships providing repair and other services in such cities as Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, where household incomes are rising.

The firm will sign a franchise contract with these dealers and plans to keep expanding the Lexus network through the franchise system, mostly in major cities next year and beyond.

The annual sales target is estimated between several thousand and 10,000 vehicles, although the exact figure is yet to be determined, the Nihon Keizai reportedly said.