Acura will produce more MDXs in the fourth quarter of this year, said Dick Colliver, executive vice president of American Honda Motor Co. He was interviewed by Staff Reporter Julie Cantwell at the National Automobile Dealers Association convention in Las Vegas this month.
What are you going to do to get more units of the MDX in dealers' hands?
We've got a new factory under construction in Alabama.
So when will dealers get more?
We're going to build about 37,000 of the vehicles this year. The key is we don't want to flood the market, but we know there's a bigger demand than we have right now. We have to live with it. The vehicle's built in Canada, the same plant where we build the (Honda) Odyssey. What do you do? Do you take Odysseys away to get more MDXs? You've got to balance it. When the new plant comes onstream in Alabama in the fourth quarter, the initial plan is to build Odysseys. So as that ramps up, we can shift some production back over to the MDX in Canada.
What are your sales volume projections for this year?
Just for Acura it's 170,000. That's up from 142,000 (in 2000).
When will you launch the Integra replacement, the RS-X?
Is it going to be high-performance only? Is it going to have two engine lines?
We really haven't announced engine specs. In Detroit we announced the Type S, which is a 200-hp engine. It's an all-new engine, though.
When the RS-X was introduced, it didn't have double-wishbone front suspension, so there was a concern that it wouldn't be high-performance enough; that it's too much like the Honda Civic.
The people who have tested it are very happy with the suspension. It's too late now!
What about price?
We haven't announced price. It will be competitive with where it was last year. That's been under $20,000 for the base model. We don't plan to have a four-door.
How many units will you produce?
Initially, we plan about 30,000. The good part about where we are today as a brand is we're not dependent on one car like we were.
In the past, all of our volume came from the Integra, where we were doing 50 percent to 60 percent of our volume from that car. Today, the Integra only represents about 19 percent, and that's about where it will stay.
So you're intentionally lowering the volume from the 80,000, 90,000 units it once sold?
If we want to be an upscale, premium brand, we can't have all of our eggs in a bucket. We've got a good balance now.
What about the RL? Is that going to get a V-8 in its new life?
The decision on what the RL is going to be has not been made.