Honda's overhaul of its luxury Acura brand will include a redesigned and electric-augmented NSX supercar, which will be built in a $70-million refurbished plant in Marysville, Ohio.
Acura sales in the U.S. were up 14% in the first four months of the year, to 48,852 vehicles, but that was still only good enough to rank it fifth among luxury brands, behind Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Toyota's Lexus brand, and General Motors' Cadillac brand.
Experts said the previous iterations of the NSX created a so-called halo car that brought attention to the entire Acura line. The automaker is hoping that will happen again with the new version.
The NSX has been the kind of car that "adds luster and excitement to the Acura brand," Jack Nerad, executive market analyst for Kelley Blue Book, said in an interview.
"It will bring people into the showrooms, not so much to buy, but maybe to look," Nerad added. "And if they look and then buy an ILX or an MDX, the Acura people will be very happy."
The refurbished plant, called the Performance Manufacturing Center, will be manned by 100 veteran assembly line workers.
The new NSX will be a lot different from its 1990 to 2005 model year predecessors.
It will feature a new body structure, powered by a mid-mounted V-6 engine mated to a new "Sport Hybrid SH-AWD (Super Handling All Wheel Drive) system," Honda said in a statement.
The V-6 will be augmented by three electric motors to give it the power of a V-8 engine, the automaker said.
The new NSX "is extremely important to us as a car company," Clement D'Souza, associate chief engineer at Honda of America, said in an interview.
"The first NSX redefined the sports car world and this car will hopefully do the same, with new technologies that will cascade down to other models in the Acura line," D'Souza said.
Michelle Krebs, senior analyst at Edmunds.com, said the announcement had been anticipated since the 2012 Detroit Auto Show.
Krebs added that it was a significant development for Marysville, Ohio, and follows a trend of foreign luxury brands like Lexus and Infiniti moving some production to the U.S.
"When the Japanese started building cars in America, there was an apprehension about whether they could achieve the same quality with American workers," Krebs recalled.
"That just isn't a concern anymore. The fact that they are going to build their luxury flagship supercar here really puts that to rest," Krebs said.
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