Acura may have been the first Japanese upscale brand sold in the U.S., but there’s no question who the current market leader is in terms of status, reputation and sales volume. Lexus methodically entered the luxury arena several years after Acura with the game-changing LS400 and Camry-based ES250, and hasn’t looked back since. Toyota’s upscale brand has dominated luxury sales for much of the last decade.
Acura, on the other hand, suffered under a previous executive that gutted much of the brand’s product development budget in the face of declining sales, canceling many vehicles and projects that would have elevated the brand’s status among consumers. All the while, competitors continued to broaden their product lineups both upward and downward. After a 10-year hiatus, Acura is hoping the revival of its NSX supercar line may be the halo car that will entice new customers back into the brand’s showrooms.
But with modest sales projections of 800 units a year, the NSX alone will not singlehandedly catapult Acura to luxury brand sales dominance. The brand is investing in new products with a refreshed RLX flagship to replace the slow-selling RL, a redesigned MDX sport-utility with a next-generation Earth Dreams direct-injected V-6, and a new midsized model to replace the TL, according to a Bloomberg report.
Unlike many other upscale brands focusing their efforts on fast-growing overseas markets such as China and Russia, Acura is focusing primarily on the U.S. as the source of its success. Much of the development, and final assembly of the NSX supercar will take place in Ohio, where most of the company’s manufacturing facilities in the U.S. are located. The U.S. also accounted for the vast majority of the brand’s 2012 sales, with 89 percent of sales. Brand representatives also note that U.S. consumers have $12 trillion in disposable income, far more than the Asian or European markets, making the U.S. still a prime sales market, despite its “mature” status.
With annual sales projections of 800 units per year, the NSX will sell in far fewer numbers than the Porsche 911, which sold 8528 units in 2012, but will be close to other brands’ exotic models, with the Audi R8 selling 802 units in 2013, and the Nissan GT-R selling 1188 units for the year. Starting price for the new NSX is expected to more than $100,000.