Japanese carmaker Honda, will attempt to challenge BMW and Audi in a highly competitive segment by launching a sub-compact SUV crossover under its 'Acura' luxury sub-brand, 2 individuals closely involved in the effort said. Reuters reports that this new vehicle is not only a part of a broader makeover planned for Honda, but could in fact help with the survival of the Acura brand.
The revival of the Acura brand is widely accepted to be new Honda CEO, Takahiro Hachigo's biggest challenges as Acura has struggled to find its niche in the market as a high-performance, luxury sports car brand, as can be seen by the dismal sales figures that it has been plagued by. In China, 460,000 BMWs and 554,000 Audis were sold last year in contrast to the meager 4,000 Acuras. Although far better than the state of affairs in China, in America, Acura has struggled for many years and has failed to top the 201,000 mark since 2006 despite having been in the country for 30 years. Acura only managed to sell 179,000 units last year, which is about half the sales numbers of what rivals BMW and Lexus (Toyota's luxury sub-brand) managed to achieve.
Production of the new Acura sub-compact crossover SUV will begin in China this year, at a plant run jointly with Guangzhou Automobile Group. The 2 sources, who have asked to remain anonymous, indicated that the new vehicle has been in the pipeline for 4 years now and will come bearing a 'crisp, more expressive' style. One of the sources also went on to state that this new product was likely to be a make or break project for the company due to its apparent weak brand-strength in China.
The new Acura crossover will be developed keeping China's conditions in mind, in an attempt to show the commitment that the brand has for the Chinese market, stated a Beijing-based Honda spokesperson. Acura expects to sell as many as 30,000 of the new crossover SUVs in China per year. The China-spec version will likely be showcased in production guise at the Beijing Auto Show although hints as to what it might look like should be unveiled in Detroit on Tuesday.