Despite parent company Honda’s green and friendly brand image, luxury brand Acura hasn’t made a great statement about electrifying their product range. Even with brands like Jaguar, Land Rover, Bentley and Infiniti pledging to fully electrify their product lines in the next decade, Acura has held back. According to Acura CEO Jon Ikeda, the reason is because it is focused on re-establishing itself as a performance brand.
In an extensive interview with Automotive NewsAccording to Ikeda, Acura came out of the gate strong in 1986 and did well for the first 20 years, but when the bottom fell off the market in 2008 the brand had “mounting pains”. This led to a time of self-reflection and, as Ikeda puts it, “What are we about?” The decision was made to return to Acura’s roots as the performance division of Honda. “This is Acura. I fell in love with it,” says Ikeda.
Ikeda joined Honda in 1989, but his promotion to head of Acura in 2015 came as a surprise to many, including himself. That’s because Honda traditionally put engineers at the forefront, and Ikeda, as the designer, was responsible for the looks of cars like the FSX Concept, the 2001 Civic Coupe, and the popular 2004 Acura TL.
Upon request from ON Whether Acura is concerned that luxury competitors are making bets to assert the identity of EV brands, Ikeda says no. “For us as a brand, we had to refocus and establish ourselves as a performance brand … We want everyone to understand where we are and what we are all about first. Even if we drive electrically, we will continue to be a brand. ” Honda’s performance department and performance will be our focus. “
Acura has poured resources into the second generation NSX hybrid supercar, which has served as a test bench to see how electricity can work in harmony with performance. They will continue to use IMSA racing cars for trophies as evidence, and Ikeda is keen to add more Type S models to the lineup as well.
According to Ikeda, Acura is still in the process of rebuilding its foundation, but when he’s done he expects people to associate Acura with performance. That seems ambitious to us, but products like the new TLX are a helpful stepping stone. It also explains why Acura is investing in different platforms to differentiate itself from Honda.
To be clear, Ikeda is not ruling out electrification. However, as he often repeats, vehicle dynamics and performance will come first and for that he wants Acura to be known first and foremost.