Honda Motor is to follow Toyota by launching a previously overseas-only brand in the Japanese domestic market.

According to Kyodo News, the automaker said on Wednesday it would launch Acura - presently confined to North America - by 2008 and integrate its three existing vehicle sales channels in Japan into one next March.

The Verno, Clio and Primo channels, which were launched between 1978 and 1985 for customers with different lifestyles, will be united into one Honda channel to allow customers to purchase and service any Honda vehicle at the same dealer, the firm reportedly said.

The Acura brand, which was launched in the United States in 1986, will start with some 100 dealers in Japan by autumn 2008, Kyodo News added.

Toyota launched Lexus in Japan earlier this year. Like Acura that brand was introduced first in the US (in 1989), but, unlike Acura, it was gradually rolled out across the world.

Nissan, too, is expanding the use of its once US-only Infiniti nameplate.