2012 North America International Auto Show Press Conference Remarks Jeff Conrad, Vice President, Acura Sales
Welcome and good morning, everyone.
Happy New Year and thank you for joining Acura.
Today we have three new products to introduce today.
But before we do, I want to take a quick look back at 2011.
And the best thing I can say about last year is … thank goodness it's 2012.
As you know, Acura was hit hard by production disruptions resulting from the earthquake in Japan and flooding in Thailand.
But prior to that, Acura was on a hot streak with 13 months of back-to-back double-digit sales increases.
Despite the challenge of limited -production for several months, Acura continued to outsell a number of successful luxury brands. So, we truly made the best of a difficult situation.
And late in the year, we began to rekindle the momentum that we plan to accelerate throughout 2012. In fact, starting today Acura came to being as a brand that defied conventional wisdom.
And it had a major influence on the luxury marketplace in terms of the types of brands and products that followed us to market.
Acura brought dependability, quality and reliability to the luxury segment.
Acura led the introduction of a wave of advanced technologies.
And Acura products provided the ideal balance of features that offered value on a luxury scale and helped a new generation of customers enter the luxury segment.
And we offered the unthinkable using engineering innovation, racing experience and Honda quality and reliability to create a vehicle that delivered supercar performance and enjoyment without super car waste and guilt.
Today, we're going to show you how we are refocused on Acura DNA to unleash a series of new models that over the next 24 months will remake our product lineup and shake up the luxury market.
In short, we will again defy conventional wisdom and become one of the top luxury brands by creating luxury vehicles based on our own unique values.
We will offer a driving experience that is dynamic and emotional to provide the driver a feeling of connection to the product, the road and the world from the very moment of entering the vehicle.
We will provide the ideal balance of performance and fuel economy that is right for each product.
And from a styling perspective, we will focus on timeless and beautiful design intended to evoke an emotional connection where customers desire to be seen in an Acura.
Looking at the luxury market the segments that are forecast to have the most dramatic growth over the next four years are the entry luxury sedan and SUV.
In fact they are the only two segments expecting double digit growth.
So, we're going to begin by talking about two products that address this opportunity the all-new RDX and our brand new luxury sedan.
The addition of these new vehicles will help propel Acura to record sales levels again with a target for this year of 180,000 vehicles— an increase of 45-percent.
To reveal our first new product, it's now my pleasure to introduce the Assistant Vice President of Product Planning, Vicki Poponi.
I'm excited to join you today to reveal the styling direction of the all-new RDX compact sport utility vehicle that will debut later this spring.
As the second generation RDX, we've sharpened our focus based on the three Acura brand promises that address the underlying needs of modern luxury customers.
Value for money is now a more essential component of success for every luxury automotive brand.
Acura products will offer rich features and content in a way that traditional luxury brands can't match.
We're focused on sustainability to provide the ideal balance of performance and fuel economy that's right for each product.
And in an industry where technology is making vehicles more and more complicated, “Time is Luxury” represents our effort to help Acura customers complete tasks effortlessly and quickly so they can spend time on the things they enjoy … like driving an Acura.
You can see how our brand direction shaped the all-new RDX.
Before this year, the RDX … powered by a 4-cylinder turbo... packed plenty of low-end torque. The ride was sporty, but fuel economy wasn't quite what customers expected.
The all-new RDX will have a 3.5-liter V-6 paired with a new 6-speed automatic transmission to deliver an estimated 33 more horsepower.
Yet, we also expect RDX to offer the best fuel economy of any conventional compact luxury SUV with the front-wheel drive model estimated to earn fuel economy of 20 mpg city and 28 highway.
RDX also gets a new, lighter weight all-wheel-drive system that provides the performance and safety benefits customers want without the added weight and cost that hurts fuel economy and value.
Quieter, roomier and more comfortable, the all-new RDX will also offer the styling, power and quality appointments that you expect in a luxury SUV.
As you can see we're evolving the RDX from a sporty, compact SUV to a more formal look with a longer, sculpted hood and styling that is more elegant and sophisticated to match our philosophy of timeless, beautiful design.
On the inside, RDX boasts Acura's "dual personal cockpit" design approach.
And with a similar footprint to the current RDX it will offer best-in-class legroom and interior space with a one-touch fold down rear seat and a rear cargo opening a full six inches wider to better accommodate the active lifestyles of young couples and empty-nesters.
The new RDX will offer:
• Pandora internet radio
• Text-to-speech SMS voice texting
• A smart entry keyless access system
• Pushbutton start
• A multi-view rear camera
• A new HDD navigation system with a new high resolution 8-inch screen.
Of course, we expect RDX to earn a 5-Star overall crash test rating and Top Safety Pick status from IIHS.
Finally, despite all of the added features and increased value, we expect pricing to be very close to the current RDX.
It's quite a story and it's all coming in early spring.
Now, to reveal another new Acura model in the entry luxury segment, it's my pleasure to introduce the head of the Acura Design Studio, Jon Ikeda.
Thank you, Vicki … and hello everyone.
Let me start by saying that we at Acura, are in the process of reshaping the entire hierarchy of our Acura sedan line-up.
As part of this strategy, we'll have a clear size distinction for all of our Acura sedans with each model targeting luxury clients in a distinct segment of the market.
The all-new sedan I'm going to show you today is a very strategic move for Acura that effectively creates a new sporty compact segment on the leading edge of the luxury marketplace.
Now, the luxury market represents only 10% of total industry sales. But research shows that 80% of mass market buyers are considering stepping up to a luxury vehicle. We think we can make the luxury segment even more accessible by providing the right vehicle to get them there.
Many of these buyers are younger, Generation Y customers who place the highest value on exterior styling, affordability and the environment that's a virtual definition of what we've created with this new sedan.
For young independent and intelligent buyers looking to express their individuality we're calling this all new sedan the Acura I-L-X.
As you can see, this is no boy racer.
It's a beautifully styled luxury sedan focused on great proportion compact yet formal the new ILX styling targets a very professional image.
The fluid lines express its elegant and efficient sides while this concept car's 19-inch wheels play up what is at the heart of all Acuras ... performance.
In terms of what's under the hood, the all new Acura ILX will get three different powertrains including Acura's first hybrid.
We're not positioning the ILX as a technology vehicle but it has a number of features that will add real value, especially for the Gen Y crowd.
Like the RDX, this includes:
• Smart entry keyless access system
• Pushbutton start
• Wide angle rear-view camera
• Pandora Internet radio
• Text-to-speech SMS voice texting
Of course it's an Acura, so we expect to earn a 5-Star overall crash test rating and Top Safety Pick status from IIHS.
The production version of the Acura ILX will debut this spring, so we're not announcing final pricing today. But we anticipate pricing will start well below $30,000 dollars.
As I said a moment ago, ILX is positioned as the first luxury destination stop for many young buyers which make it a new gateway to the Acura brand.
Now, for a first look at what will serve as the pinnacle of our lineup it's my pleasure to introduce a man I first came to know in the late 1990s when he joined us at Honda R&D Americas.
The president and CEO of Honda Motor Company, Mr.Takanobu Ito.
Good afternoon, everyone.
It's great to begin the New Year in Detroit with the Acura team. After a very challenging year in 2011, we start 2012 with great momentum.
Today, I'm happy to introduce a car that demonstrates our passion for performance and for the Acura brand.
I first became involved with Acura about 25 years ago. I led a team of young engineers developing the body of a new supercar that would become the Acura NSX. It was the biggest engineering challenge of our lives. Through our approach to create a lightweight supercar with an all-aluminum body, the Acura NSX became an icon.
Its key attribute was its power-to-weight ratio which helped provide a fun-to-drive experience to anyone who got behind the wheel.
Since production of NSX ended in 2005, we have strived to create a worthy successor. Yet, many global changes have affected the automotive industry since that time.
In this new era, even as we focus on the fun-to-drive spirit of the NSX, I think a supercar must respond to environmental responsibilities.
To achieve this, the vehicle I share with you today will have two very important traits.
First, it will have advanced technology that enhances fun-to-drive handling and performance.
Second, it will express our own core values … to create and sustain a world where people can enjoy life. So, we will again express high performance through engineering efficiency and that's something unique to Acura DNA.
This NSX Concept is powered by a mid-engine V-6 and a new Acura-exclusive Sport Hybrid super-handling All-Wheel Drive system. This system will make NSX the ultimate expression of the Acura idea to create synergy between man and machine.
NSX will make the driver one with the car to enhance dynamic driving without getting in the way.
Our vision is to achieve performance that is up to the challenge of racing. So, while we created this NSX Concept for our customers you might see NSX on the race track as well.
A vehicle that is closely based on this NSX Concept will come to market within three years on a global basis. And today I am excited to announce that this new Acura supercar will be developed by an R&D team in the United States. And we will build it in Ohio as well.
We will continue to strengthen the Acura brand here. Not only in sales, but development and manufacturing as well. In this way, the U.S. will be the strong hub of our global business for the Acura brand.
Acura is already in China. And starting next year, we will expand Acura to some of the world's growth sectors … such as United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia as well as Russia and the Ukraine.
Along with the Acura team and global Honda, I am excited about this new model. And I sincerely hope our customers around the world will share our passion.
Thank you, Mr. Ito.
With the new Acura ILX sedan as the gateway to our lineup and the NSX Concept as the pinnacle of the brand, I think you can see that every Acura vehicle is being designed to evoke passion and joy.
Thank you for being with us.
Now, Mr. Ito will be available for a few quick photos, and then please join us and the rest of the Acura team on stage for a closer look at the future of Acura.