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Australians to be denied Acura - and the next NSX

No-show: Honda's Acura luxury brand won't be seen in Australia.

Honda chiefs confirm the Acura brand, and its new NSX flagship, won't be sold here

30 Sep 2008

HONDA’S Asia and Oceania regional operations managing director Fumihiko Ike this week ruled out bringing the Acura brand to Australia - a decision that will deny this country a range of luxury and high-performance vehicles, including the new NSX supercar.

At this stage, it is planned that the forthcoming new-generation NSX will be sold exclusively as an Acura, which means it will only be available in the US and Europe.

While Toyota’s Lexus brand is growing in Australia, and Nissan, which is spreading Infiniti across Asia, is working to bring its luxury brand back to Australia, Honda has now made it clear that the Acura brand has no place in Australia.

When asked if Acura could be sold in Australia, Mr Ike said: “No, because Honda itself is a very well established brand name. In some Asian countries we are as high as some other European prestige brands such as BMW, so we don’t need it.”

This is a big stumbling block for Australian plans to import the next-generation NSX, which Mr Ike said would be powered by a V10 engine and arrive in “two years”.

The problem is that the sportscar is being developed as a model that could re-invigorate the Acura brand in the US, and Honda wants it to maintain its exclusivity.

When asked if the NSX would make it to Australia, Mr Ike said with a smile: “No official exports, but maybe smugglers (will bring them).”

When GoAuto expressed that this was a great shame, Mr Ike said: “I know.”

It appears that in the early stages of the NSX’s development it was planned to be sold as an Acura throughout Asia. However, now that Honda has decided against an Acura expansion, it has an issue on its hands.

“Internally we are trying to harmonise the policy because NSX is exclusively for Acura brand. But now we are not bringing Acura brand to Asia, maybe very strong resistance from US people that we out the H mark (Honda badge) on the NSX, that is going to dilute the image of Acura, so that is a big dilemma for us,” Mr Ike said.

He explained that the Acura brand had not done as well in the US as Honda would have liked.

“Acura has been struggling in the US. We started not high-end but near-luxury we call it, mainly because our engine was V6, no V8 and no rear-wheel-drive, so from beginning our segment was quite limited,” he said.

It appears that the current policy is to use the NSX as a way of breathing life back into the Acura brand. “Internally, we are discussing a lot. We don’t have an answer yet,” he said.

“We initiated the Acura brand for the sake of the US market and how to rebuild the Acura brand in the US that is our priority, so maybe we have to sacrifice (NSX availability in other markets) but we have to be patient,” he said.

Honda Australia managing director Mr Yasuhide Mizuno told GoAuto that he hoped the NSX could still make it to Australia, perhaps with a Honda badge.

“We are considering about this issue with the Acura badge,” he said. “To give up a fantastic car because of a badge that is not such a good way (to go).”

He said Honda Australia was also looking at a way that it could justify introducing the Acura brand locally, but said it was very hard to make the business case stack up.

Read more:

Honda shrinks to grow

Acura not coming

First look: Honda shows off NSX replacement


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