Acura is still looking for a luxury identity

Article by Christian A., on December 20, 2010

Although it has had a solid year and its sales are up 24 percent over 2009, it appears that the recession knocked hard Acura’s dream to become a first-tier luxury player. Currently, the battle in this segment is taken between fellow Japanese luxury carmaker Lexus as well as German premium brands Mercedes-Benz and BMW. Moreover, to reduce costs, Honda executives halted plans for a new V8 engine and rear wheel drive.

Apparently, according to Vicki Poponi, American Honda Motor Co.'s assistant vice president for product planning, Acura needs to find out “who we are and who we want to be”.

"The direction we were going became irrelevant within 60 days," said Steve Center, chief marketing officer for American Honda when he referred to the economic crash. "We missed the window. We've had to reconnoiter. We had to go with our strengths." he added.

And things are not quite bad for Acura, as it was rated the top luxury brand for residual value for the past two years, by Automotive Lease Guide. According to Autodata and Truecar, Acura spends just $2,600 per vehicle on incentives, which is the lowest of any luxury brand excepting Lexus.

Operating from its in Minato, Tokyo, Japan, Acura is the luxury vehicle brand and division of Japanese carmaker Honda. Acura was launched by Honda on March 27, 1986 in the US as a division that would concentrate on designing, manufacturing and selling luxury vehicles.

A result of a decade of research, the development as well as introduction of the Acura luxury brand came at a time when the Japanese government implemented strict export restrictions for the US. This situation made it more profitable for Japanese carmakers to export more expensive cars to the US. Almost simultaneously, Nissan and Toyota were also developing their own luxury brands -- Infiniti and Lexus, respectively.

Acura holds the honor of being the first Japanese auto luxury brand. It was introduced under the slogan: "Acura Precision Crafted Automobiles." To support the introduction of the Acura brand, Honda opened 60 new dealerships in North America in 1986. Acura’s first offerings are the Acura Legend executive car and the Acura Integra premium hatchback.

Acura proved to be an instant success in North America, thus further influencing Nissan and Toyota to quickly follow suit. In 1989, Nissan and Toyota introduced their Infiniti and Lexus luxury brands, respectively.

In 1990, Acura launched the Acura NSX, a mid-ship V6-powered, rear-wheel-drive sports car. Standing for "New Sports eXperimental, the Acura NSX was the first all-aluminum production car in the world. The NSX was also regarded as the "everyday supercar." [via autonews - sub. required]

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