Acura Changes Direction...No Longer Shooting for a Tier 1 Luxury Brand

Acura has been trying to change its portfolio to become more of a Tier 1 luxury brand, but it looks like those plans have changed. Acura had been working on developing new high-performance vehicles and its first V8 engine, but those plans have been canceled.

There is "a certain level of confusion" about Acura in the marketplace, Honda Motor Co. CEO Takanobu Ito told Automotive News at the Tokyo auto show. "We are in the midst of big changes. We've changed the direction of research and development."

Prior to the collapse of the economy Acura had plans to finally match the other top tier luxury brands with its first V8 engine and rear-wheel-drive, but those plans have been scrapped sending engineers back to the drawing board.

Instead of focusing on going head to head with brands like BMW, Honda CEO Takanobu Ito stated, "I see the future of Acura as a merger of BMW and Audi--something between high technology and high performance." Eighteen months ago Acura dealers were promised five new models, but as a result of the changes Acura will be in a "low-growth period of developing new products."

"We were thinking that we could come up with glamorous, gorgeous products that would sell. Now, our premium products will be expressed in advanced environmental technologies, rather than glamorous things attached to the product," Ito said.

It has been rumored that Acura is going to return to the entry-luxury market with a vehicle to compete against the BMW 1 Series.

"They talked a lot about smart, efficient and sensible luxury vehicles, not big, in-your-face luxury cars that don't make sense," said Jim Brown, general manager of Ron Tonkin Acura in Portland, Ore. "They said there will be a new product introduced every year. ... But there also is a delay in the pipeline."

This winter Acura will release the ZDX crossover and by the fall of 2010 the TSX Sport Wagon will also launch.

Full Story: AutoWeek


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