NEW YORK – Acura creates a new office to combine some vital automotive operations and “advance the competitiveness of the brand,” says Michael Accavitti general manager of the luxury division’s U.S. unit.
“Some people might think, ‘What’s the big deal?’” he says of the Acura Business Planning Office. “Well, this is the first time we have Acura sales, service and marketing fully together.”
He touts the importance of the new office during the introduction of the ’15 Acura TLX sports sedan at the New York International Auto Show. First shown at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January, the vehicle goes on sale this summer.
Erik Berkman heads the new planning unit located in Columbus, OH, in a region whereand its luxury division Acura operate factories and an R&D facility.
“The way we were structured, there was a bit of a disconnect in how our products were developed and how they were marketed and sold,” Accavitti tells WardsAuto.
“This new structure will help us better align so we can really focus on customer satisfaction from the beginning of the process to the servicing of the car.
“It really sharpens our customer service and focus on quality. It will touch the entire process from the inception of product to delivery.”
The new setup replaces one that was “functional-based,” he says. “We reached a limit on the success that organizational structure could provide. We decided to change to better focus on delivering the customer experience all the way through the process.”
The Acura brand debuted in the U.S. in 1986. The company is based in Japan. Ironically Acuras aren’t sold there, although plans to do so were considered and then scratched.
Acura operates in certain other countries, such as China and Mexico, and the brand hopes to increase its global presence.
“Right now though, we are focusing on growing the brand in North America first,” says spokesman Sage Marie. The U.S. “no question is our largest market,” Accavitti adds.
Behind Cadillac, Acura is the No.5 luxury brand in the U.S. Deliveries have steadily increased in recent years, from 123,299 units in 2011 to 156,216 in 2012 to 165,436 last year, according to WardsAuto data.
The ’15 TLX the automaker highlights at the New York auto show will do double duty, notes Alec Gutierrez, senior analyst for Kelley Blue Book. “It will be replacing both the TSX and TL sedans.”
The TLX enters a lively and expanding lower-luxury market. Competitors will include the Lexus IS, Infiniti Q50 and Cadillac ATS.
Acura needs a winner in that segment, Gutierrez says. “The ILX hasn’t quite delivered the results Acura was hoping for thus far, so the automaker will look to the TLX to get things going in the right direction.”
The TLX with a 2.4L engine comes with Acura’s new 8-speed dual-clutch transmission. A higher-end model features a 3.5L V-6, a new 9-speed transmission and Acura’s Super-Handling All Wheel Drive, considered one of the most advanced AWD systems around.