It’s not often an automaker throws up its arms and says, “Oops, we kind of screwed up and need to start over.”
While Acura hasn’t exactly gone that far, parent company Honda admits there’s some confusion regarding the brand. Autoweek is reporting that Honda’s CEO Takanobu Ito said about Acura,
We are in the midst of big changes. We’ve changed the direction of research and development.
That simple statement has huge implications. Changing direction on research and development is as close to starting over as automakers get, considering new models spend years in the R&D phase. Dump the products in the R&D pipeline and lose a good two years of new product introductions.
Since that pipeline was going to provide V8, RWD models to go head to head with the likes of BMW, Lexus and Audi, Acura dealers are being left in a bit of a lurch. Especially the ones who have spent millions on new showrooms to feature the now nonexistent new vehicles.
Just 18 months ago, Acura promised its dealers five new models. Now there will be only two, the TSX Sportwagon (which we briefly covered here) and the ZDX crossover. Neither will do much to stop Acura’s four-year sales decline.
On the positive side of all this, I’m thrilled to see an automaker realize it has been playing somewhere it shouldn’t be. It goes back to the problem with automotive advertising, when brands try to be everything to everyone. Acura is realizing that it can let BMW build BMWs and just focus on its core values and the cars it builds best.
The place Acura can really compete and succeed is back where it started: with sensible, fun, entry-level luxury cars. Remember the original Integra? I think that’s the route we’ll see future Acuras take, with a few modern luxurious and efficient twists, I’m sure.
There’s nothing confusing about an Acura that is sensible and practical.
What kinds of cars do you think Acura should be building?