Acura bets on China, but still focused on US
Paul A. Eisenstein , The Detroit Bureau
Honda’s long-struggling luxury brand Acura reportedly plans to start building cars in China in 2016, targeting what is soon expected to become the world’s largest market for highline vehicles.
But Acura officials insist that even as they look for other opportunities abroad, they are increasing their focus on what has traditionally been their largest market, the United States. They’re backing that up with an assortment of new products that will soon include an all-new version of the once ground-breaking supercar, the Acura NSX.
Honda plans to invest about $70 million on its flagship plant in Marysville, Ohio to get ready for the re-launch, late next year, of the revived NSX. The sleek, 2-seat sports car was once a showpiece of Asian automotive prowess and lent a halo to Honda’s Acura division, the first Japanese brand to target the demanding luxury market. But after a 15-year-run, the NSX was pulled from production in 2005 a move that coincided with Acura’s sharp downturn, leading some to wonder whether it could survive, especially as the automotive market plunged into recession.
The decision to bring the supercar back – and to power the next-generation NSX with a cutting-edge hybrid drivetrain – highlights Honda’s push to rebuild the brand, a move backed by a number of new and updated models, including the all-new RLX flagship sedan.
“We witnessed the rise and fall of Acura sales over the last decade,” says Mike Accavitti, who joined American Honda as its Chief Marketing Officer two years ago and has since focused much of his attention on the luxury brand. “We began to realize we had to clarify the brand direction which was, over time, diluted.”
While Acura was the first Japanese luxury brand when it debuted in 1986, it has become a weak second-tier player compared to Toyota’s Lexus brand, never mind dominant European highline marques Mercedes-Benz and BMW.
The struggling Japanese maker’s challenge has been to reposition itself with new product and get back on the radar screen of potential buyers who had plenty of other options to choose from. While two concept versions of the NSX have been big draws on the auto show circuit over the last 18 months, it still won’t be in showrooms for quite a while.
More at link: http://www.nbcnews.com/business/acur...-us-6C10707628