Now that Acura is a division separate from Honda in the United States, there are hopes that the luxury brand would be able to shore up its image, boost the appeal of its products and increase its sales. For almost three decades, Acura and Honda were grouped together under American Honda, which meant that the company’s product planners, marketers and regional sales staffs have to splitting their efforts between the two brands.
Honda Motor basically treated Acura vehicles as upscale trim levels of Honda-badged products. Because of this treatment, Acura’s product lineup became plain and the brand suffered from inconsistent marketing and a muddled alphanumeric vehicle-naming strategy. Now, executives at American Honda are hoping that the move will create a cohesive sales and marketing silo for Acura.
Now armed with a dedicated r&d team, Acura should come up with smarter product and better marketing and get on the radar of the Japan HQ. The new structure is somewhat similar to the relationship between Toyota and Lexus as well as between Volkswagen and Audi. However, there are some hurdles that Acura should leap. Currently, Acura only exists in the Americas.
In other parts of the world, it is rebadged as Honda. Likewise, almost Acuras are assembled in the US, making it even more difficult to get on the radar of the Japan HQ "Not many shoppers view it as a luxury brand. It doesn't have the status of a Lexus or Audi. It's more like a Buick, a semi-premium vehicle," remarked Dave Sullivan, an analyst with AutoPacific.
"They don't seem to know what direction they want to go in. They don't have the Lexus experience at the dealer. No one is clamoring for an Acura." John Mendel, American Honda's executive vice president, acknowledged that a key issue was that the company had "long been separated by function rather than brand,” adding that automotive operations was different than auto sales." [source: automotive news - sub. required]