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Auto blogWed, 26 Feb 2014 10:00:00 EST
Honda and Acura North America have announced a major restructuring of operations in hopes of turning around Acura's flagging business. For 2013, sales for Acura's sedans dropped 10.4 percent, while its CUV sales grew by 21 percent. The newly formed Acura Business Planning Office will attempt to right the ship.
As part of the restructuring, Acura is promoting Erik Berkman from President of Honda R&D Americas to lead a new division called the Acura Business Planning Office. Berkman has been with Honda since 1982 and led development of the 2006 Accord. He was also the first US engineer to head North American research and development and has been head of Honda Performance Development since 2008. "Erik's appointment to the new Acura Business Planning Office is a clear indication of the high priority we place on Acura," said Honda spokesperson Jeffrey Smith to Automotive News.
American Honda Motor President and CEO Tetsuo Iwamura is also going to be working to improve the business. He has been elected chairman of American Honda's board, and has simultaneously taken the new position of Corporate Brand Officer to improve the management of the company's brands.
With the Tokyo Motor Show now behind it, the Japanese automotive industry is gearing up for the next big event. That'd be the Tokyo Auto Salon, Japan's equivalent to SEMA or Essen, set to take place at the Makuhari Messe in Chiba. Subaru has already announced what it has in store for the tuner expo, and now Honda has followed suit.
Most interesting of all the tuner concepts Honda has lined up are a pair of modified Vezel crossovers. The one pictured above is kitted out with parts from the Modulo catalog, while a second one is being prepared by Mugen (similar to the one recently leaked). Both look pretty sharp and hint at the possibilities in store for the Fit-based crossover that'll come to these shores with turbo power.
Honda is also displaying Modulo and Mugen versions of a number of other vehicles, including its N family of Kei cars, the new JDM Odyssey and the Fit. There's an N-WGN kitted out like a cookie delivery truck, an N-Box+ modified to look like an Element, a series of Ninja Turtles-inspired Grom motorbikes and an array of racing machinery. Check 'em all out in the gallery above and the press release below.
The 2011 earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan took quite the toll on the automotive industry in that nation. Not content to lean on that tragedy as excuse for slagging sales, the Japanese automakers are planning on a major production expansion in North America. The aim is to reclaim the market share lost from the Tsunami-based dip, and overcome a dollar/yen exchange rate that makes exporting to America unprofitable.
Following the Tsunami, Japanese automakers ramped up production in their North American facilities to compensate, but according to Automotive News, Nissan, Honda and others have all reported plans for still-further increased production in the year ahead. As part of this ramp-up, Mazda will open a facility in Salamnca, Mexico before March of 2014. Part of that increase in output is 50,000 units of a Toyota-badged compact car, which Mazda will produce.
Other Mexican production facilities opening include a Honda plant, which will open in Spring 2014 in Celaya, and a Nissan plant, set to open later this year in Aguascalientes. Nissan also said that it will need another plant in North America within the next five years. According to Nissan Boss Carlos Ghosn, the company aims to raise its stake in the US market from 8 percent to 10, and adding production will help achieve that goal. Even Mitsubishi is aiming to boost production at its Normal, Illinois plant. Production of the Outlander Sport is currently at 50,000, which Mitsubishi wants to raise to 70,000.