Sunday, August 8, 2010

Segmentation 3: Cleaning up Acura

Too many models muddling up the middle. That's a problem with Acura.
Blend the best of the CSX and TSX into one and run it against the BMW 1. Leave the TL to run in the 3-series space. Any sport mod to the TL can use the X as a "type".
In the 5-series space, run the RL.
Introduce the Acura SL into the flagship space, upwards of $100,000.

In order to do this, take the time to truly understand the demographic. 5-series may be the most successful luxury sedan in auto history, and what they've been doing for the last 30 years should never be considered an accident or luck. Same thing can be said of the 3-series in terms of its leadership in the segment. Mercedes Benz S-class would be the flagship model, although Audi A8 is doing a fine job as well.

Get this right, and Acura can toss whatever permutation of roadster, concept, crossover thing they want in between the segments - but the clearly defined small-medium-large backbone must be strong and clear in the mind of the consumer in order to carry the other fringe experiments.

Acura technology is not the problem. Honda/Acura are absolutely among the best engineered vehicles made. No question, no argument. It'd be a shame if the marketing failed to help the consumer discover and experience all the quality by not gaining their attention.


Anonymous said...

I agree with you that Acura needs to clean up its segmentation, but I don't agree with what you've posted in terms of how the Acura's stack up against BMW's offerings. In my mind, and I believe Honda's, the CSX is the entry level Acura, the equivalent of the BMW 1 series, the TSX is the yuppie car, the 3 series competitor and the TL is the car to compete with the 5 series. I agree the RL doesn't create the proper flagship image for Acura and therefore will never compete with the 7 series, the A8 or the S class Mercedes.
I think Acura's are just missing the identity part of the package. It is not a natural progression from one car to the next in the Acura line up. I think you can see the progression from entry level to flagship in much finer detail in any of the german makes. Truthfully Lexus is not completely immune to this lack of progression either. The Japanese makers don't view the progression of the brand the same way and I believe that is a major downfall. Give each car its own identity but keep the identity of the brand consistent. I don't think Acura has done a horrendous job, except on the RL, but it is just not up to par with the German makes for the progression and pricing. You could get some people shopping the TSX against the TL, which really shouldn't happen. That is a result of them both being such different cars with unique abilities and characteristics. I don't think you'd see customers shopping the 3 series against the 5 series. Although, having said that, you would probably have people shopping the 1 series against the 3 series, but that is a factor of BMW's ability to charge too much for the one series. Priced the way it is, I don't really see the point in a 1 series, but that's just me.

DA said...

Thanks for the comments. Yeah, my ideas may be a little off, but hopefully you read the previous entries in this "segmentation" series to get the context.

I will let you know from experience that, in the mind of Honda, the TL is competing with the 3 series. I agree with you, it SHOULD be a 5-series competitor, but the pricing makes it lost, cannibalizing both downward against the TSX and upwards against the RL (hence putting this entire discussion under the topic of "segmentation").

Finally, again, luxury identity is trickled down from a flag ship - without a true competitive flagship, it's extremely difficult to forge a luxury identity. "Luxury flagship" is defined by S-Class, 7-series and A8 - it is what it is, and Acura has nothing in that segment. That's the primary reason it lacks the connection to the luxury mindset.

Lexus started its brand in 1989 with the "LS", because they understood very clearly that that's the segment where attention must be gained.

I appreciate the dialog with you, thanks for commenting.