Dealers have doubts about Acura ever reaching Tier 1 luxury status after officials reported a sales plunge and a decision to cancel rear-drive V-8 vehicles. At the make meeting, Acura officials tried to talk dealers into agreeing that the new plan, which is reliant on hybrids, would succeed.
Dealers would have to wait at least a year for the hybrids to arrive. While they wait, Acura is giving dealers more incentives and higher marketing funds in order to drive traffic.
Jim Smail, president of Smail Auto Group in Greensburg, Pa., expressed his eagerness for Acura to start a sales event in April that will run through July. Each region will have lease and loan incentives that will be tailored for them.
Jeff Conrad, vice president of Acura division, revealed that in a move rarely made by the carmaker, the sales event will be promoted as such in advertising, instead of as product ads with a sales tag at the end. Conrad revealed however that the incentive plan has yet to be determined.
Along with retail-driven spots, Acura will continue to support a brand advertising campaign, which was launched last year. There will be 11 commercials coming: four will be for the entire brand while seven will concentrate on product attributes.
These commercials will feature a high-tech, r&d setting to draw attention to its innovations. Smail said that Acura is also helping regional dealer advertising associations with additional funds. In October, 19 associations had been formed by Acura dealers.
Since then, that number has risen to 24. After the make meeting, Smail said that all dealers would benefit from these commercials because one single dealer on its own won't be able to afford a broadcast TV ad for a lease or APR deal. Another strategy that dealers were also pleased about is Acura's recent rollout of "below the line" dealer incentives.
These incentives can raise up to $400 per car for dealers if Acura's guidelines for training, Internet marketing, customer service and certified pre-owned programs are met. Conrad confirmed that Acura is considering a small car below the TSX sedan. The vehicle not only would compete against the BMW 1-Series, Audi A3 and Volvo C30. [via autonews - sub. required]