News - Acura
New York show: Acura ‘could’ go right-hand drive
Slim chance for Acura in Australia as focus remains on North America
26 Mar 2016
By TIM NICHOLSON in NEW YORK
HONDA’S premium brand Acura could expand to more markets beyond its North American base, including right-hand drive countries such as Australia in the future, but its focus remains on its key United States battleground for now.
Acura offers some models that are sold in Australia as Hondas, including the Accord Euro-based TSX and the second-generation NSX supercar, but outside of North America, it only operates in China, Russia and Kuwait.
The Japanese luxury car-maker revealed the heavily revised third-generation MDX at the New York motor show this week that could be a perfect fit for the Australian market given its size and premium positioning.
Speaking with reporters at the New York motor show, American Honda Motor Company and Acura Automobiles executive vice-president John Mendel said the brand “could” potentially expand in to right-hand-drive markets, but added that if it did, it would likely be with a focus in sedans.
“Having worked in the UK I understand it,” he said. “We are exporting Acura now to other markets. We will see how that goes as we make more relevant global vehicles, which I think is certainly probably more in the sedan side of the business than the truck side of the business.
“You don’t see a lot of big sports utes (SUVs) in Europe right now. I think it does become more relevant for the brand as we expand into other markets.” Mr Mendel said there was a possibility that the MDX could be produced in right-hand-drive configuration, adding that the focus in the short term at least, was on the US market.
“Everything has the possibility. We are going to stick to meeting the demand here at least in the domestic market first and as that demand grows worldwide, that is certainly an option.”
Acura had its best year in 2015 since the global financial crisis, shifting 177,165 units in the US, an increase of nearly 10,000 units over 2014. Its best sales year was 2005 when it sold 209,610 in the US.
The MDX – based on the Honda Pilot – is the company’s biggest seller, with 58,208 sold last year in America, followed by the CR-V-based RDX on 51,026 units.
Acura claims that the MDX is the best-selling three-row luxury crossover of all time.
Mr Mendel was also coy when asked about the rumoured sub-NSX Acura/Honda sportscar, possibly dubbed MSX, and instead highlighted Acura’s commitment to performance-focused models.
“I think you are going to see performance derivatives in everything we do.
“Whether they are A-Spec or Type Ss or Type Rs. I think watch this space as we go forward. We are serious about precision crafted performance. We know that Acura has been known for it and I think we intend to very to live up to that expectation.”
If Acura got the green light for right-hand-drive production and was introduced in Australia, it would join Toyota-owned Lexus and Nissan-owned Infiniti as Japanese luxury brands.
Acura started life in North America in 1986, beating Lexus to the punch as the first Japanese premium automotive brand.
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