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Auto blogThu, 18 Apr 2013 19:30:00 EST
The short life of the Acura ILX has been vexed by one glaringly odd standard equipment choice, mediocre reviews, getting outsold by its competition as it posted slower-than-projected sales and a pledge by Honda to upgrade its supposedly upgraded offering. Therefore, when Automotive News reports that just 91 of the Civic-based Acura sedans were manufactured last month - after a string of production months in double-digits - it would be easy to press the button for the alarm bells.
But that would be hasty, because it is actually the 2013 Honda Civic that is crimping the production pipeline of the ILX. The vastly higher sales numbers of the Honda meant that all three North American plants that produce it needed to crank up output to satisfy dealer inventory needs, including the Greenburg, Indiana plant that makes both the Civic and the ILX. As the classic guns-vs-butter Economy 101 lesson taught us - in which making more of one necessarily means making less of the other - well, the Civic is the gun.
Honda prepared for this eventuality by cranking out the Acuras while it got ready for Civic production. The ILX has held steady at about 500 units shy of company projections every month, and the current inventory represents about 90 days worth of sales. That makes Greenburg's ostensibly low numbers in line with the realities of the ILX, and the situation probably won't change much as Acura gets ready for the improved 2014 ILX.
Developing a new vehicle is not without its complications, we're sure, but usually things follow a fairly predictable progression: you develop a prototype, you test it, test it and test it again, then you put it into production. What you don't expect is that your prototype will burn to the ground, but that's what famously happened to the NSX which Honda engineers were testing a few months ago.
Fortunately, the Acura NSX prototype is back on track, both literally and figuratively, as you can see from this latest batch of spy shots snapped at the Nürburgring. This camouflaged prototype looks pretty much the same as the last one, only, you know... less crispy. Which is to say, it looks pretty much ready to hit showrooms.
The naysayers may point out that Honda chose colder and damper weather to put the NSX back into testing - thereby mitigating the risk of another fire - but we're sure the Japanese automaker has been working hard to fix the flammability issues, whatever may have caused them, over the past few months. At least, we hope they have.
Ford, General Motors and Chrysler have been living in a world of sunshine and buttercups after their April-through-June financials hit the newswire, and Toyota is doing pretty good as well. Honda? Not so much.
While Japan's third-largest manufacturer saw $1.9 billion in profits, the 5.1-percent jump was lower than expected thanks to a drop in its home-market sales. US sales also took a sting, as Honda hasn't been able to match the SUV and truck demand that are currently permeating the American market, despite an uptick in Accord sales.
Honda's initial forecasts targeted a take of 209.3 billion yen ($2.1 billion at today's rates), and while a $200 million shortfall is nothing to sniff at, we'd hardly take this as Honda being in trouble. And even with the dip, Honda hasn't adjusted its forecast for the fiscal year, which remains at 780 billion yen ($7.9 billion).