Honda to expand Acura brand globally starting 2014

Article by Anita Panait, on May 28, 2013

Honda has disclosed that its Acura Division will be going global, after 28 years of being mostly a North American entity. Honda is planning to introduce Acura in Russia and the Ukraine in 2014 and in Brazil and the Middle East in 2015. Honda has already started selling Acura in China, albeit only recently. Honda sold around 176,000 Acura vehicles worldwide – with the United States and Canada accounting for 156,216 and 17,154 units recently.

China and Mexico accounted for the remaining sales. Jeff Conrad, general manager for Acura in the US, remarked during the unveiling of the brand’s MDX cross-over in the country that they have taken a “bigger global footprint,” little by little. He remarked that although Acura’s plans are not grandiose in scale, but “they are rolling out."

Honda executives have disclosed that they target Acura to achieve 200,000 sales in the US in the near term. The carmaker expects its larger vehicles like the MDX, TL and RLX to perform well in terms of sales in Russia and China. The MDX has been considered a gray-market favorite in Russia for several years. Honda’s problem now will be how to badge Acura products – particularly the NSX that is due late 2014 -- in markets where the brand is not present.

The carmaker badged the first-generation NSX a Honda outside of the US. Honda spokesman Sage Marie remarked that the NSX is being developed and built in America as an Acura product is a statement of how significant the brand is for American Honda and for Honda.

Honda’s global expansion plans for Acura, however, pales in comparison to Nissan’s worldwide ambition for Infiniti. Nissan Motor chief executive Carlos Ghosn expects Infiniti’s sales to surge from 170,000 to 500,000 by 2017.

Michelle Christensen, NSX exterior design project leader, remarked that the NSX is a result of the so-called 'Interwoven Dynamic' design, which represents the ideal fusion of supercar function and exotic sports car form.

As intended by designers, the new NSX is distinguished by its classic low and wide proportions as complemented by its modern surfaces as well as by an assertive front end and rear lights inspired by the first NSX. The new NSX also features floating C-pillar and hallmark side intake that directs airflow to the mid-mounted engine for cooling purposes as well as over the rear deck to increase downforce.

The final production version of the NSX is around three inches longer and an inch wider – with its cab slightly moved forward – than the NSX Concept unveiled in 2012. This was done in order to properly house the new longitudinally mounted twin-turbo V6 engine and its nine-speed DCT.

Designers have made sure each element of the exterior has been sculpted to allow for total airflow, meeting the much-needed cooling requirements of the car while boosting the amount of downforce for better high-speed stability. To ensure this, Honda had the NSX undergo extensive wind tunnel testing at its facility in Raymond, Ohio. These tests enabled the carmaker to see through the changes that needed to be implemented on the concept like adding new front fender vents, modifying the hood vents and side air intakes, as well as optimizing the deck spoiler.

Johnathan Norman, NSX interior design project leader, remarked that they designed the new NSX from the inside out with utmost focus on the driver, as consistent with the 'human-centered supercar' development concept. He noted that the 'Human Support Cockpit' in the new NSX delivers outstanding driver control as well as visibility and packaging while meeting the performance as expected of a modern supercar.

Topics: honda, acura

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