LOS ANGELES -- Changes coming in Acura's product lineup in 2012 will result in more North American production for Honda, a further hedge against the strong yen that has devastated the bottom line for Japanese automakers.
Currently, the entry-luxury Acura TSX is made in Saitama, Japan, and is based on the Honda Accord platform used for the European market.
But the ILX that will replace the TSX next spring will be derived from the global Honda Civic platform, and thus can be assembled at Honda's plant in Greensburg, Ind.
The plant recently started a second shift, doubling its output to 200,000 units annually. Building the ILX in the United States will insulate Acura from a yen that has ranged this year between 75 and 80 to the dollar, an all-time high.
The current-generation TSX peaked at 31,998 sales in 2008. In moving slightly downmarket, the ILX is projected to have sales of about 40,000 units a year.
About 85 percent of the vehicles American Honda now sells in the United States are built in North America. For a company that traditionally sells about 1.2 million units in the United States, including Honda and Acura, an extra 40,000 units built over here won't have much impact on the bottom line.
But each nameplate usually is judged for its contribution to the final profit or loss. And insulation from the tough exchange rate gives better margins for Acura dealers to work with in negotiating a sale.