Monday, December 25, 2006

Acura's future direction is unsure...

The blind leading the blind. That is how I would describe Honda's future along with Acura's future after reading this article: Honda CEO won't let growth engine idle. I am usually a supporter of the underdog, and the first Japanese luxury brand (Acura) is now an underdog. They're making quite a bit of money off the TSX and TL, however Acura's "flagship," the RL, is not a success in many people's book. Acura has to work hard to separate itself from Honda, however they still sound unsure as of how they're going to do that. Below are excerpts relating directly to Acura taken from the article:
Honda has always prided itself on the performance of its engines. Now the Acura brand is supposed to distinguish itself by being more performance-oriented. How?

We need to emphasize the product differentiation between Acura and Honda. Our aim is to further enhance the Acura brand. We are trying to shift the image associated with the Acura brand to one that's more sporty, more luxurious compared to the conventional Honda image. So the Acura engines need to be sportier. One way would be what we did with the RDX. To differentiate it from the CR-V, we put in a turbo. Going forward, we're thinking of different ways to differentiate.

Will we see more Acuras with turbochargers?

As of now, we don't have that plan.

It's not going to be just turbos, but we'll be employing different approaches to enhance the sportiness of Acura. Of course there will be differences in timing of implementation. For example, we don't have any intention to keep turbos just dedicated to Acura. So in the future it's possible that they will be adopted in Honda products as well.

Will we see different suspensions on Acuras?

That's a possibility. We don't have any specific ideas right now. But suspensions might be one of the approaches we might take. Another would be powertrain or drivetrain systems.

Acura sales still seem to be struggling, even with the new RDX and MDX. Are you satisfied with the launches of those models?

I am satisfied with the RDX and MDX that we've launched. I don't really consider that the volume is struggling. That's something we can grow step by step. Still, we need to further enhance the premium-brand image of Acura, within our pursuit of a premium brand.

Last year we came up with the RL, with which we aimed to further enhance our image. But that was slightly under our expectations. It was not a big success.

In that case, it seemed that you offered only one version, and customers wanted more choice. Do you need to offer more choices and variations within each nameplate?

Our basic idea would be not to pursue that way. Rather, we want to pursue a more clear identity for different models.

Is it fair to assume that the planned V-6 diesel will go into Acura cars and perhaps Honda trucks?

I cannot say which models will get it. We'll make the appropriate decision when the time comes.

Will the V-6 use the same clean technology as the smaller diesel you plan?


Is the Ridgeline a candidate to get that diesel?

The Ridgeline, MDX, Pilot, Odyssey -- those would be the Honda products that would need this kind of technology.

Would those diesels, both the V-6 and the smaller one, have the kind of performance you're looking for in Acuras?

I think we can use them both ways to their respective purposes, because we can make them meet the requirements of more sporty performance required by Acura.
You would think by now they thought of exactly what Acura should be. What image an Acura vehicle portrays, other then being sporty and luxurious. They have to provide technology that can't be found in Hondas! However, from the answers provided, they seem to be unsure of what the consumer wants and what they want to provide. Read the rest of the article to learn more about Honda/Acura's future plans.

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