LOS ANGELES -- The unexpected appointment of Jon Ikeda to head Acura puts him on a short list of top brand executives in the auto industry who got there by way of the design studios rather than the business offices.
It's a route that has produced mixed results. But having a designer in charge of a luxury brand that's light on cachet could be exactly the shot in the arm Acura needs, both for its product portfolio and its relationship with the Honda mothership in Japan.
"You could argue Ikeda's the human embodiment of Acura," Karl Brauer, senior analyst at Kelley Blue Book, told Automotive News. Acura is a U.S.-based Japanese luxury division now led by a Japanese-American who has worked for the company in both the U.S. and Japan.