Acura lineup to grow by '10; sees 'potential for coupe'

LOS ANGELES — Acura will add a nameplate to its lineup in 2010 as part of an effort to become what company executives call a "tier 1 luxury brand."

"We will have an all-new vehicle," said Dan Bonawitz, vice president for corporate planning and logistics at American Honda Motor Co. By broadening the lineup, he said, Acura can compete more directly with rivals such as BMW and Mercedes.

The new vehicle will be Acura's first addition since August 2006, when the RDX small crossover joined the lineup.

Bonawitz would not give details but said the nameplate will arrive before the redesigned NSX sports car, also due in 2010.

John Watts, Acura's product planning manager, told Automotive News last fall that any additions probably would be in niche segments.

"We will look at smaller segments," Watts said at the time. "There is potential for a coupe like the CL," which was killed after the 2003 model year.

He said a vehicle with a retractable hard top was possible.

"We're always looking at that, too," Watts said, "but that market is fickle."

Some sources say Acura will offer a four-seat sports coupe, priced in the $50,000 range, that also will come in a convertible version.

Acura dealers are eager for new product. They currently sell three cars and two crossovers. Through June, sales were down 14.8 percent to 90,742 units.

"We need to start creating more buzz about our products," said John Hawkins, an Acura dealer in the Los Angeles area. "I'm going to keep Acura in my prayers because they need it." c

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