The year 2011 was tough for many automakers that depend upon parts from Japan, Honda included. Production disruptions because of the tsunami and nuclear reactor damage caused the automaker’s grip on the performance car market to slip. Now, as the Detroit Free Press reports, Honda is gearing up to dominate once more, thanks to a resurgence in the Acura line.
Introducing a new Acura stable
Three new Acura models will be built at production plants in Ohio and Indiana, including a reborn, ultra-sporty Honda Acura NSX. The Acura NSX, which will launch within the next three years, will be built in Ohio. Another exciting Acura offering, the Acura ILX, is a compact sedan that will offer consumers both regular gas and gas-electric hybrid powertrain options. It will be assembled beginning this spring at Honda’s Greensburg, Ind., plant. Then there’s the 2013 Acura RDX, which will be assembled in East Liberty, Ohio.
The new Acura blood comes just in time for Honda. U.S. sales were down 6.8 percent last year in the wake of earthquakes, tsunamis and flooding, leading to throttled production and dealers without the inventory to meet demand. The former scenario has been remedied in relation to North American factories, but the latter will continue to be a problem until March, Honda CEO Takanobu Ito announced Monday.
Heating lukewarm water
Critics and consumers have not been kind in their assessment of the 2012 Honda Civic. Yet all is not gray skies for Honda. Sales of its mainstream brand are expected to grow to about 1.25 million in the U.S., up from 1.15 million in 2010. Sales of Acura vehicles are expected to rise from 123,000 in 2011 to 180,000 this year, said Ito, who, along with top Honda U.S. executive Tetsuo Iwamura, has defended the automaker’s recent offerings.
“We think the Civic and the CR-V are competitive enough,” Ito said.
Yen values decrease revenue
The increased value of the yen is the United States’ gain, as higher currency value in Japan cuts into overall international revenue by causing Japanese production costs to spike. It becomes more expensive for Honda and other Japanese automakers to sell vehicles in countries where the currency is weaker. More U.S. plants will be utilized as long as the yen fares well.
The United States’ neighbor to the south also benefits. Honda is currently building a factory in Celaya, Mexico, that will begin operation by 2014. Ito predicts that the plant will be able to produce up to 200,000 cars annually.
2012 Honda Acura NSX concept
U.S. News and World Report: http://usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/cars-trucks/Honda_Civic/