Acura dealers are getting the support they need to move new cars out of showrooms, while expanding the factory certified pre-owned vehicle program and increasing profitability in a mostly flat market. The brand is also gearing up for an even brighter future as next-generation vehicles are launched, ready to conquer the luxury space.
The upscale Honda brand saw sales fall 1 percent last year, compared with a modest gain for luxury overall. But in some segments, Acura gained market share. The entry-level ILX sedan posted a sales gain of 30 percent last year following a major freshening. For this year, both the TLX sedan and MDX crossover will be redesigned.
"The market isn't growing, so everybody's trying to conquer each other's sales," said John Rickards, chairman of the Acura National Dealer Advisory Board and president of Bobby Rahal Auto Group in Pennsylvania. "And I would say for Acura, if there's a time that's right to be doing their conquesting of other brands, it's now. 2020 is going to be the year."
Bobby Rahal Auto Group operates Bobby Rahal Acura in Mechanicsburg.
Rickards spoke with Staff Reporter Laurence Iliff. Here are edited excerpts.
Q: How did 2019 go for Acura dealers?
A: Well, 2019 was certainly a challenging year for the automotive industry. It was definitely a flat to down market overall. However, I will say that the Acura brand really kept the pulse going . And actually being a down market, though, conquered quite a bit of market share for the brand. I think it was pretty well timed. The incentives were in the right place at the right time with the right models.
The models that they presented — the new RDX is just a home run, styling, ride, comfort. It really is going to redefine the brand as a precision-crafted vehicle. The ILX — the refresh on that was certainly well needed. It was up 30 percent [in sales] over the year. MDX sales were up 500 units. I think that overall for Acura, in a very difficult and challenging marketplace with the targets always moving, I think it fared pretty decent. Could it have done better? I'm a car guy, I always want it to be better. But I think it's certainly a solid framework for 2020 and going forward.