The recession may prove to be a saving grace for Acura, which was forced to cancel its plan to be a tier-one luxury automaker as resources and the market for such vehicles dried up. “The direction we were going became irrelevant within 60 days,” said Steve Center, marketing boss for American Honda in a recent interview with Automotive News.
As a result, Honda’s luxury brand had to step-back and reexamine what its goals were. The exact message Acura wants to send isn’t clear and execs at the company admit that the current plan of branding the automaker as Honda-plus is not what they want. However, that has worked for Acura over the years and the plan is to still push ahead with vehicles that are performance-oriented but which are also a good value with normal maintenance and ownership costs.
According to Acura dealer Jim Smail, the automaker is committed to the brand and will be injecting more money into it over the next few years – particularly in developing new products. Smail says that at a recent dealer meeting in Denver dealer reps were told that Honda will expand the Acura lineup, with new hybrid powertrains, but also into new segments – likely returning to the premium compact arena where it has had so much success in the past. That won’t just mean a rebadged version of the Civic though, says Center, who highlights the Canadian-market CSX (a rebadged Civic) as exactly how not to transform Acura.
[Source: Automotive News]