American Honda has broken ground on a $15 million design center for its Acura brand in Torrance, Calif. When the center opens in the summer of 2007, it will be the first time Acura has not shared design space with sister brand Honda.
Dave Marek, 48, the chief auto designer for Honda R&D Americas Inc., talked with Staff Reporter Kathy Jackson about Acura's future.
Why is the design center so important?
The company never separated (Acura) enough from Honda. Because of that, the public felt the same way. It was just an extension of Honda.
What was the company's intended image for Acura?
We were always too careful with Acura. We were trying to do something new when we came out with it, but we were always apologizing for it. Now we need to start over with a clean sheet of paper. It was never a true brand to a lot of people.
Now we will be less careful, bolder.
So you think the Acura brand is bland?
Yes, I do. We're spot on with the MDX truck, but we haven't done such a good job with the cars.
What luxury marque do you like?
Bentley. It's modern but also classy. Acura can't really be classic because it doesn't have that history. But we can be bold.
Do you think any Acura cars have that bold look you're talking about?
The TL and the TSX are on the right track, but the RL doesn't have it. If we were bolder with styling, we would not alienate people. The new building will help. At Honda, we've always worked by project, whether it's Honda or Acura. Now we will work by brand. The idea is to get Acura going full steam so that it is no longer the stepchild.
You may e-mail Kathy Jackson at [email protected]