For the top man of American Honda Motor Co., Acura is a “big challenge.” American Honda chief executive Tetsuo Iwamura said that while Acura has a "very strong lineup" of sports utility and crossovers, there are issues with its sedans, which need to be improved a lot. He cited that the Acura ILX so far is not meeting their volume expectations.
He remarked that the Acura TLX could be a volume model for the brand when it gets a redesign and rebadged from the TL in spring 2014.
Honda is planning to exhibit several new turbocharged engines and a new eight-speed dual-clutch transmission at the Tokyo Motor Show this week. Iwamura, however, implied that Honda would not employ distinctive powertrain technologies to distinguish Acura from the volume Honda brand. According to him, only Honda's three-motor hybrid system will be distinct to the Acura brand in the United States.
The 2014 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid that will be rolled out next spring will feature Honda's seven-speed dual-clutch transmission and its new Sport Hybrid-All Wheel Drive connected to the 3.5-liter V-6 engine. The SH-AWD system employs a three-motor hybrid system to redirect power, when the vehicle is making a turn, from the inner wheel to the outer one to improve handling and performance.
The rear wheels get one electric motor each, while the third is integrated into the V-6 as a motor-generator. While Acura logged a 6-percent gain in sales in the United States so far this year to 135,126 units, it remains behind Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Lexus and Cadillac.
American Honda’s CEO also scorned the idea of following Lexus and Infiniti to the global stage. He noted that Acura’s main market is still the US, and “a bit of China." He said that instead of expanding Acura globally, it will strive to become a strong brand in North America and China. Once that happens, Acura can go global.