Last post on Nov 05, 2013 at 12:08 PM
You are in the Acura RL
What is this discussion about?
Acura RL, Sedan
Dec 05, 2003 (2:41 pm)
Honda cannot simply snap their fingers and increase production capacity. It takes years to research a new line. The site must be located, the viability of the workforce determined, financing secured, environmental impact studies conducted, contracts negotiated (or officials bribed), and then finally they get to build the thing. By the time the line is built, or even expanded, the car it was designed to support is now several years old and selling at a more normal pace.
Take the Ody as an example. Back in 1999, Honda could not keep pace with demand. They immediately starting looking to expand production. The line in Alabama was completed
sometime in 2003 (maybe late 2002). Of course, now every minivan on the market has a "magic seat", big interior, and powerful engine. The demand has faltered.
The only reason why building the new plant makes sense is because the MDX, Pilot, and the upcoming truck can be build on the same line. The RL line does not have other vehicles to fall back on when times get tough.
Sphinx - I don't know. I don't know enough about how much it costs to shutter a line, then reopen it, restaff it, and retrain the workers. There are some cases when it is better to keep a car line running at a loss. I can tell you why Ford still sells the Taurus at a loss, but I don't know enough about the details of RL production.
Acura may still makes a minor profit on the RL. (The R&D costs must have been recouped back in the '90s.) But you can bet the profit margin is wafer thin.
Dec 05, 2003 (4:24 pm)
I guess the answer to that question is, in my opinion, the most interesting part of the Honda Thing. The question being, of course, why does Honda alone continue production of its low-volume slow-sellers... not for months but years!
Think NSX and think RL. Frankly, I was surprised that Acura axed the CL coupe. When you think about it, that was deeply out of character for the company--keeping a non-starter in the lineup for year after year after year is what I'd have expected the fate of the CL to be.
Dec 06, 2003 (9:20 am)
The Prelude would be another one that perhaps should have gotten the axe earlier.
As for the RL, it may just be procrastination. They may have designed the RL back in 2000, but been forced to hold off because of other projects (the Ody and Pilot). They may have justified the move by saying, "it'll only be for a year or two." Then two years later, they had to postpone it again. Back to the drawing board. Had they known that the it would be four years late, rather than two, maybe they would have cut production.
#1592 of 7386 Respobse to post 140:
Dec 06, 2003 (2:50 pm)
There is nothing wrong wth Acura having younger buyers. I think the average age of the Acura buyer is 44 right up there with Audi and BMW. I don't want to see Acura's age bracket go up to Lexus and Cadillac levels.
To me redesigning or updating the RL hasn't been a top priority of Honda for a few years but now it is a top priority for Honda. Obviously Honda wants Acura to be upscale and Honda can't do that without having the 05 RL be a hit.
Dec 07, 2003 (6:06 am)
I guess they were distracted with the new Odyssey plant in Alabama, the introduction of the Pilot, Element, and MDX to be concerned about the RL. They must have designed the car sometime long when they found out that the RL just wasn't selling and then put the project on hold to go to design the TL, rebadge the TSX, design the Element, Pilot and MDX. Now, all the distractions are gone and Acura/Honda can focus on the RL. The RSX should really be the next Honda Prelude- if it stayed an Acura, that would bring its image down into the regular car segment.
#1594 of 7386 It's a numbers game.
Dec 07, 2003 (8:16 am)
I'm sure that MS-Green was correct when he wrote, "Honda has probably lost some market share forever by leaving this car untouched for years." The lack of redesign has hurt the image of the car and the brand.
The flip side is that Honda built a stronger following with the MDX than the RL ever had.
The question becomes, can the new design make up lost market share within its segment? The first generation Ody certainly left a bad taste in the mouths of American minivan buyers. But the 1999 Ody turned that around. Can the '05 RL do the same?
#1595 of 7386 Oh yes, easily.
Dec 07, 2003 (11:42 am)
American car buyers are a fickle lot with bad short-term memory, awful long-term memory, and not a lot of smarts, I'm sorry to say. If the majority of this country can be persuaded (through TV ads) that Saddam Hussain knocked down the World Trade Centers, then they can be persuaded that the '05 RL is a great car that they must buy in order to feel cool about themselves.
Dec 07, 2003 (12:47 pm)
Is it just me, or is Acura acting like GM did in the bad old days? Back then, GM denounced current product trends, and did not really step up to face the imports dead on. It took years for them to realize they needed to step up quality, design, price, and performance. Now Acura is stubornly saying "We don't need no stinkin' RWD." While they may have perfected the V6 FWD car, the RL's main competition is all RWD, and with at least a V8 option.
Look at Cadillac. They spent a decade trying to perfect the FWD V8, and they came pretty close. Then they realized their main competitors were RWD, and tout à coup they switched over. Acura has had ample time to prepare the new RL, and all indications are they are going the V6 FWD route.
There are a ton of RWD cars of all price ranges coming out in the next few years: at least 5 cars coming off Kappa, a glut of cars on Sigma Mass/VE, all of BMW/MB, the expensive Lexi, the LX bodies, and the list goes on. Even if it is a hybrid, it won't be a direct competitor. Even if the hybrid system is remarkable, it won't draw any of the Lexus/BMW crowd. As Ms Green said, there is little hope of gaining much market share with the RL.
Dec 07, 2003 (6:46 pm)
Hence, we already know that the next RL will not be FWD. Therefore, no, they are not acting like GM did during the old days. They are stepping it up on quality, design, price and performance.
I'd rather have AWD in a luxury sedan than RWD, to be honest. Who cares if AWD introduces a little bit of understeer, exactly how many 525i auto tranny sedans have you seen sliding the tail out on canyon roads lately?
As for V8, I don't think it's any more necessary than it is necessary for BMW to inflate the horsepower ratings on their 3.0L I6. Make it a performer, and that should suffice.
#1598 of 7386 Fickle buyers
Dec 08, 2003 (7:43 am)
I think it's possible to convince the American public of anything they want to believe. To borrow your WTC example, people already hated Saddam, so it wasn't difficult for them to make the leap.
Doing the opposite is another story. I know several people who still defend the notion that Saddam was involved with the WTC attack (indirectly). They really want to believe that is true.
A more advanced and capable RL will win buyers, but not reverse the beliefs that people already hold near and dear to their hearts. Let's face it. Even if a FWD vehicle outhandles the RWD competition, RWD advocates are not going to accept it.