Acura Striving for a Return to the ’05 Glory Days With the ILX

Posted by Stephen On Thursday, December 13th, 2012

According to a recent interview AutoNews had with John Mendel, Acura is on a quest with a single goal in mind – re-achieving their annual sales figure of 200,000+ units per year. Mendel, the American Honda executive vice president, says that one of the key avenues towards achieving that goal in the short-term will be the new Acura ILX, which was released in May of this year. However, sales of the compact sedan have continued to fall short due to a number of factors.

Apparently, one of the most worrying trends is that the Acura ILX is being consistently outsold by the Acura TSX. This is a problem because the ILX is supposed to replace the TSX, which will be axed in 2013. Unsurprisingly, the ILX is also being outsold by its rivals from other brands, including the Buick Verano, the Volkswagen CC and the Audi A4. In fact, the Buick Verano is selling nearly double the units of the ILX.

So, what’s the problem? What is holding back the Acura ILX from achieving its annual sales target of 30,000 units?

According to Mr. John Mendel, the 2.0 L engine offered with the base ILX is “underpowered, and consumers don’t see the value”. Even though a more powerful 2.4 L engine is available, it is currently only available with a manual transmission – a huge turnoff for many buyers. Who would’ve thought that giving customers a limited choice between a lackluster engine and a manual transmission doesn’t yield good results? Fortunately, Mendel is aware of the problem and has a solution: “the car was planned for a 2.4 automatic, and we are working to fulfill that.”

Now, an observant reader might ask the question, “If the Acura ILX is being consistently outsold by the more aged TSX, why not stick with what works? Why bother introducing a new model when the old one is still selling like lemonade in the desert?”

The answer lies in where the two cars are manufactured. The Acura TSX is manufactured in Japan, and importing the car into the US is expensive due to the currency exchange rate between yen and dollar. In order for the TSX to be profitable, it would need to be more expensive… But since it is supposed to be Acura’s entry-level car that doesn’t work. The Acura ILX, on the other hand, is manufactured in Indiana, thereby averting the problem entirely.

Despite Acura’s current disappointment with the ILX, brand sales are still improving across the board. Mendel fervently believes that they will be hitting their goal of 200,000 annual sales over the next couple years, especially with the introduction of a new compact crossover and flagship sedan slated for next year – two cars that you’ll want to be on the lookout for.

Sources: The Truth About Cars, AutoNews

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