Acura: New products to lift sales
Sedan, crossover expected to fuel 46% rise in 2012
DETROIT -- Acura expects a whopping 46 percent jump in sales this year, powered by a string of new cars that begins with two entry-luxury vehicles arriving this spring.
The ILX sedan and RDX crossover will be in showrooms in March. A redesign of the rest of the lineup follows within two years.
In 2015, Acura will see the rebirth of the NSX sports car as a hybrid sports car, developed and built in the United States, said Takanobu Ito, CEO of Honda Motor Co.
The new products, plus the ability to produce at full capacity after recovering from the Japan earthquake and Thai floods, mean Acura's U.S. sales will increase from 123,299 units in 2011 to 180,000 this year, said Tetsuo Iwamura, CEO of American Honda Motor Co.
"If we do 180,000 units, that will be a success," Iwamura said. "We are much more ambitious for the future. Last year, we struggled a lot with production, but this year we can go full speed."
A larger replacement for the RL flagship comes this fall, followed in spring 2013 by the mid-sized TL sedan.
The ILX will share underpinnings and powertrains with the Honda Civic. The ILX is smaller than the outgoing TSX, which was based on the European Honda Accord platform. That footprint was too close to the TL sedan, which also was about the same size as the RL.
The arrival of the ILX won't immediately eliminate the TSX, said Vicki Poponi, American Honda's assistant vice president of product planning.
While admitting the TSX "is the car that gets squeezed," Poponi said, "We can't dump it right away. We'll see how they work together."
A redesigned RDX crossover will have a longer wheelbase and wider track. The RDX's previous big weakness -- a peaky, thirsty turbo-four engine -- has been replaced with a 273 hp, 3.5-liter V-6 that gets a claimed 20/28 mpg rating.
"Over the next four years, the [small] entry sedan and compact crossover segments are the only two luxury categories with forecasts for growth," said Jeff Conrad, Acura Division's general manager.
Acura created a stir at the Detroit auto show with news that the upcoming NSX sports car will be developed in the United States and produced at an advanced manufacturing operation in Ohio. The sleek two-seater will have a 3.5-liter V-6 mated to two hybrid-electric motors.
To trumpet its revival, Acura has bought its first advertising spot during the Super Bowl, said Mike Accavitti, American Honda's chief marketing officer.
"We're going to get Acura noticed," he said. "This is the big bang, game on. We don't want to trickle the launches out. Acura is here."
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