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Honda is Splitting the Baby in Twain

It’s time to go out into the great unknown, little one.

April Fool's Day

The change takes place on April Fools’ Day, otherwise known as the most confusing day for changing things up at work.

Acura’s been in a bit of an odd position lately. It’s a solid luxury offshoot of a Japanese automaker (Honda, in this case), and we’ve enjoyed the vehicles that we’ve had the chance to review. However, the car-buying public at large isn’t necessarily agreeing with our opinions, as Acura’s sales aren’t setting world records or anything, and so Honda’s been trying to figure out what to do with its fancier half.

Well, it seems that Honda’s finally figured out a game plan. According to its recent press release, Honda “will strategically realign its automobile sales and marketing operations into separate divisions organized by brand, as the Honda Division and Acura Division.” The move happens on – great timing here – April Fools’ Day 2014, and should help provide an advantage over the current model.

As it stands right now, marketing and sales for Honda and Acura are both taken care of by American Honda Motor Company. That all changes next month, as a number of executives and higher-ups switch positions in order to deal with Honda and Acura separately. 

Acura needs a well-defined plan that showcases it as a step above Honda’s top offerings.

“Our goal is to accelerate the already strong sales growth of the Honda and Acura brands through a more cohesive strategy, with a heightened focus on the unique needs of luxury and mainstream customers,” said John Mendel, the EVP of automobile sales that will soon oversee both brands as the head of the newly-minted American Honda Auto Division. Sales have been increasing, and it’s true that luxury and economy cars have entirely separate audiences with different wants and needs, so it makes sense to split into two divisions that tackle each with different approaches.

Acura RLX Sport Hybrid

Acura’s upcoming RLX Sport Hybrid shows that the automaker is intent on catching up to the competition, and fast.

It’s not just a bunch of moving about, though; there are actual, real additions to the underlying infrastructure that will help Acura gain a foothold on the sheer cliff that is the luxury market. An all-new business planning office will help the OEM build its business strategy in a way that will (hopefully) pull some of the attention away from the cars that Lexus and Infiniti are building.

Thankfully, Acura’s in a great position to get this change a-rollin’. The automaker has recently released the RLX Sport Hybrid, a full-sizer with the appropriate amount of power (and an appropriate drivetrain) for its class. Furthermore, the upcoming TLX hopes to remove the burned-in image of the outgoing (and quite old) TL that so many Honda fanatics would love to forget about.  Honda’s got its own things going on, as well, as the 2015 Fit will hit the market later this year, followed by an “all-new compact SUV,” which we assume will be an updated CR-V.

Despite polar-vortex-induced dismal sales across the board in February, Acura still saw a sales increase over the same month last year. For the entire 2013 calendar year, the numbers are about the same – a single-digit-percentage increase in sales over the previous year. However, although it was 50,000 sales ahead of Infiniti and only a couple thousand ahead of Audi, the 165,000 or so vehicles that Acura sold pale in comparison to Lexus’s 273,000. And they don’t even throw shade at the Mercedes-Benz or BMW, both of which sold over 300,000 vehicles in 2013.

This will hopefully solve the issue that Honda has been facing lately – how do you differentiate your luxury brand while the “regular” brand continues to get more luxurious and well-appointed? Volkswagen suffers from the same issue, as its cars resemble Audis more and more each year. Acura needs a well-defined plan that showcases it as a step above Honda’s top offerings. That may take a bite into some of Honda’s sales for the sake of expanding Acura, but in a hotly-contested demographic, extreme measures need to be taken.

Written by Lewis Shaw

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