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Acura RL

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Comments

  • varmintvarmint Posts: 6,326
    Honda is still a relatively small company. They cannot afford to have old models sitting on the lots because buyers know how much better the next design will be, and are willing to wait for it. it's hard to sell RLs now. Imagine how hard it would be if the public knew more about the '05 design...

    Besides, it keeps the competition guessing.
  • Guessing or not, the competition is already way ahead of them. Acura needs to unload the current RLs at wholesale prices. I am sure that there will be bottom price buyers out there looking for a good deal that they cannot pass up. The current RL design is outdated anyway, that is why sale is lagging. They need a bigger vehicle with more horsepower along with all the bells and whistle that all the upcoming vehicles have and then some to stay even with the competition. The current image that Acura has is that is is a low luxury brand for low budgeted minded young buyers. Look at all the young kids driving RSX, TSX, and TL. They need improve their image as a luxury automaker by selling fewer low price vehicles and come out with some luxo products in the $60K+ range.
  • I agree with Low Ball 88...Honda needs to get the new RL into production asap and dump the remaining ones at break even prices. They are a strange company. Yes, the RL is a nice car, but has been outshone by the competition for several years. When the MDX received a 240 hp version of the 3.5L, most people figured that it would be a no-brainer to see it show up in the RL...but no, Acura struggled on with a 210 hp version for a year, then finally bumped it up to 225 hp, but never went to the VVT used in the MDX. Why? The development was done, costs sunk, and it would have helped move RLs just from a marketing standpoint. Same thing with the four vs. five speed auto. Lots of opportunities over the past couple of years to improve the RL with "off the shelf" stuff in the Honda parts bin, but they chose not to do it. I plan to look at the 05 RL, but after looking at the new GS430, M45 and STS.
  • I am looking to buy and I am waiting for the 05RL, 05GS430, the current BMW 545i, E500, or the A8. However, I have always been a Honda/Acura fan and would like to see what the 05RL has to offer before jumping ship. I don't mind paying the price for a good looking, well equipped, reliable vehicle. That is why I am hesitating on buying the German makes, too many electical problems and too many little problems here and there that would drive me crazy.

    BTW, Acura needs to move away from the FWD and go AWD on all makes. From the rumor mill, I guess the new 05RL will be the start of it. It really does not matter if others like the FWD format, but the trend is RWD or AWD for sports sedan. This will definitely take Acura to the next level with LEXUS, BMW, AUDI, MB
  • varmintvarmint Posts: 6,326
    I agree with Low_ball. The RL is behind the times. But he/she didn't ask about whether or not the RL was a good car. The question was, "why is Honda so secretive?" Let me elaborate on my answer and maybe you'll see what I'm talking about.

    "Acura needs to unload the current RLs at wholesale prices."

    They are. RLs do not make a significant (if any) profit for Honda. They already have heavy dealer subsidies and leave the lots at invoice prices. If they were to sell them at lower prices, they would probably be losing money on the deals. That loss would mean less money to do things (like design a better one).

    Bottom line: Keeping the new design a secret, keeps the RL from costing them money.

    "When the MDX received a 240 hp version of the 3.5L, most people figured that it would be a no-brainer to see it show up in the RL..."

    That's a popular misconception. The 3.5L in the RL is not the same block as the 3.5L in the MDX. The RL's 3.5L is based on an older engine. I suspect that this is also the reason why a newer tranny was not added. The one from the other 3.5L may not bolt up to it.

    Chances are, if Acura had introduced a new RL two years ago instead of now, it would have been another mediocre car. It probably would have been V6 making about 260-280 hp in a FWD chassis, with cosmetic and content upgrades. A nice car, but not a remarkable car.

    By waiting a few years, they now have the technology to make it a 300-330 hp car with an advanced hybrid drivetrain and AWD. This would be, IMHO, a much more unique competitor... and worth the wait.
  • in 05 we are also going to see new models of the GS300/430, M45, STS and others that will be direct competition for the RL. I think our point was that Honda did little to upgrade this car over the past four years, and probably could have - and - sold more - and - kept their flag carrier more visible, but did not. Now, after years of poor sales, and minimal market share, they will be bringing out a new model just in time to face newcomers from other makes. Almost any seriously improved RL will sell better than the current version, but Honda has probably lost some market share forever by leaving this car untouched for years.
  • varmintvarmint Posts: 6,326
    "I think our point was that Honda did little to upgrade this car over the past four years, and probably could have - and - sold more - and - kept their flag carrier more visible, but did not."

    Yep. I agree with that, too. But it brings us back to the "Honda is a small company" issue once again. If Honda had spent time and money building a new RL, would they still have been able to create vehicles like the MDX and Pilot? Would they have been able to afford the new Alabama lines for the Ody? Would they be able to keep up with Toyota in hybrids?

    I completely agree that the RL has suffered badly. But I also suspect that it was a nevessary evil... and probably the lesser of several evils. My hope is that the new design is stunning enough that the market is blind-sided. Which would attract more attention than incremental improvements.
  • In order for the RL to attract more attention before it is release, Acura/Honda needs to release some enticing information that will draw curiosity to the buying public. Releasing prototype vehicles that shows the public where the RL is going is the key to marketing your product. Also, Acura/Honda in general should boost production of all their vehicles like Toyota/Lexus. What is the point of having a vehicle that you cannot go to the dealer and buy immediately but have to wait for months for delivery. The more they sell the more exposure they are gonna have and in return a higher market share in this very competitive industry.

    BTW, selling at invoice is not consider to be rock bottom pricing. The company and dealers still make a good profit. Selling at one or two thousand dollars below invoice would be.
  • sphinx99sphinx99 Posts: 776
    Ok then... why not discontinue the RL altogether? It's not an image leader, we know that. People don't walk into showrooms looking for a RL then accidentally end up with a TL... they come in for the TL in the first place. And if RL production risks costing the company money, why not simply cease production until the redesign does arrive?

    Given the low production volume, I doubt assembly personnel would be too adversely affected...
  • varmintvarmint Posts: 6,326
    This discussion is heading in the direction of business strategy, rather than the car itself, but I'll try to address some of these issues.

    Acura will release information. The 2005 RL is expected to be shown in January. Rumor has it going on sale in April. That is typical for Honda/Acura products.

    They never (willingly) release information more than a few months ahead of the vehicle launch. Given Honda's ever-increasing success in our market, I cannot accept the notion that releasing information early is "the key" to success. This strategy has always worked for them in the past.

    Furthermore, it is possible to release information too early. People in this market are fickle. Hype will build up, peak, then falter as new and more interesting cars steal the spotlight. The ideal situation is to have the car go on sale while the hype is still peaking. If you release information too soon, the hype will subside before people can make a purchase.
  • varmintvarmint Posts: 6,326
    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.
  • sphinx99sphinx99 Posts: 776
    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.
  • varmintvarmint Posts: 6,326
    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.

    Who knows...
  • carguy58carguy58 Posts: 2,303
    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.
  • jchan2jchan2 Posts: 4,956
    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.
  • varmintvarmint Posts: 6,326
    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?
  • sphinx99sphinx99 Posts: 776
    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.
  • theo2709theo2709 Posts: 476
    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.
  • sphinx99sphinx99 Posts: 776
    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.
  • varmintvarmint Posts: 6,326
    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.
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