Acura S Entry In The American Market

Essay, Research Paper

Acura s Entry in the American Market

Satisfying the consumer. Whether it is little Johnny from down the street putting a little more sugar into his cups of lemonades in hopes of boosting sales, or Manager Joe, head of the huge corporation in New York City lowering prices of his shampoo line, satisfying the consumer has always been, and always will be, one of the top priorities of the American business market. Five decades ago, emerging into the automotive scene, which was overflowing with big, gas-guzzling, boat-like cars, the Japanese auto makers were looking into how they could assess the customers needs of the American auto market. They looked into what Americans wanted, and they came to the conclusion that Americans loved high-performance, luxurious accessories, maneuverability and parkable cars. The Japanese automakers sought to make a change. This is where Acura came into the market 12 years ago to dominate the Japanese luxury import scene.

The introduction of good-quality, high performance cars has been in the American eye for decades. The American s demand for performance and the domestic automobile manufacturers such as Ford, General Motors, and AMC; no longer being a major American manufacturer, gave them what they asked for; big, large, slow, high-output, gas guzzling cars. Many Americans fell in love with them, but weren t too hot on refilling their gas tank every couple of street blocks. The demand for different level trim options with many luxury items were also a want for the Americans from leather interiors to power windows.

Many Japanese imports tried to come in the American market such as Honda, Nissan, formerly Datsun, and Toyota, but never caught Americans hearts like the domestic cars had. They lacked size, power, and were the laughing stock of the town because of their toy-like size (Schoell 1998).

This is what the Japanese wanted to change in the American market because they wanted a piece of the action. Seeing that the Americans did not want large, gas-guzzling cars, Japanese automobile makers decided they wanted to bring high efficiency cars with reasonable prices and a vast amount of luxury amenities. Acura was what America was searching and wanting in Japanese luxury imports.

1986 was the year that the first ever Japanese luxury import car company came to the American market. The selling strategy was technological refinement, luxurious appointments and a goal of producing luxury cars that were also consummate driver s cars (General 1998). With only three cars on its production line, the Acura Integra, the Acura Legend, and the Acura Vigor, sales were more than what the upscale Honda motor company thought it would be (General 1998). Upon introduction, the 1986 Legend accomplished what no other luxury car had dared to try. It proved that luxury doesn t necessarily come at the expense of precise handling, responsive powertrains and excellent road manners (General 1998). In a real and fundamental sense, it had gone where no luxury car had gone before. It had crossed that line of where handling and performance was, at the time, achieved by more expensive European GT machines, GT machines meaning high-performance sports cars (General 1998). Acura now setting a new standard in the American market had set the new standard on Japanese luxury imports.

While Acura is a high luxury import, the partnership with Honda Motor Company makes Acura stay firmly on its feet. Honda having been around since the early 60 s gave Acura that edge on reliability and strength in the consumer market (Holdener 1998). Now in business for almost four decades Honda motors are the number one selling import cars in America (Holdener 1998).

Honda known for their state of the art motors turns our focus toward Honda Motor Sports. Honda s current Indy Car racing engine, the aluminum alloy block Honda HRH Indy V-8, made its debut in 1995 at the Indianapolis 500 (General 1998). A marvel of technology, this was the second generation of Honda HRH Indy V-8 s. The engine it replaced was the iron-block HRX that had been used in 1994 and also during the first five races in 1995. The Honda HRH Indy V-8 was an aluminum alloy block that produced more that 780 horsepower at 13,000 R.P.M. (General 1998). (I m thinking I have a lot of horsepower from my 1.8 liter four cylinder, which produces about 140 h.p. Compare that to this HRH motor and my engine seems pretty mediocre.) Both of the Indy engines possess Honda technology that s taken Honda years of tedious racing research to figure out (Lai 1998). This magnificent technology is VTEC (Variable Valve Timing and Lift Electronic Control.) What the VTEC technology does is it allows each valve rocker to follow its own cam lobe, which is optimized for high torque at speeds below 4,000 r.p.m. When higher speeds are reached, the two intake, or exhaust valves, per cylinder are operated by a third rocker followed by a high-lift, longer-duration cam to provide optimized power at higher r.p.m. A dual-stage intake manifold helps exploit the engine s extended breathing characteristics by optimizing the intake-runners length. When you are below 5,600 r.p.m., air enters the cylinder by a long runner for higher torque and then a series of butterfly valves opens a second set of runners for faster cylinder filing of air for high-r.p.m. power (Pettitt 1996). (It s very confusing to comprehend, but a lot easier to see it done then told.) A lot of the VTEC technology was taken straight from the track and incorporated into the Acura NSX and Acura Integra GS-R (Evans 1998). The bearings, oil, and valve technology came from the Honda Indy Car F1 that had the Honda HRH Indy V-8 s and HRX Indy V-8 engines (General 1998).

Acura Integra s were part of the three-car line, but was one of the most successful entries because of its low price and high standard of luxury amenities. This was what Americans wanted from the domestic automakers, but never received. Hearing the Americans cries, Acura launched a spectacular and impressive car that incorporated the VTEC technology. The Acura Integra, satisfying the consumer.

The first generation of the Acura Integra came in a 2 style, 3 level trim. The Integra wasn t a smash hit in the dealership, but they sold more than 150,000 during its four-year debut in America in the first generation model. With only 118 horsepower from a 1.6 liter four cylinder it was a no-frills type of ride (Acura 1989). With its handsome looks all around to its eager four cylinder, this was a great little entry-level sports machine. In 1987 and 1988, it made Car and Driver s Ten Best list (Car and Driver 1/87 and 1/88).

The second generation Integra, 1990-1993, was a hit. The 1990-1991 Integra came in 3 trim levels, RS, LS, and GS. The 1992-1993 Integra had many changes from the 1990-1991 model. Its came in four trim levels, the RS, LS, GS, and GS-R (Pettitt 1996). This generation of Integra proved that the Integra truly was a racecar in disguise. The 1990-1991 Integra was coupled with a 1.8 liter four cylinder engine producing a remarkable 130 horsepower at 6,000 r.p.m. (..To Monterey 1990). The 1992-1993 Integra models came with a more powerful two engine option. The Integra RS, LS, and GS models came with a 1.8-liter, four-cylinder engine that could churn out 140 horsepower (Romans 1998). The Acura Motor company thought about introducing a racing machine with technology from the Honda Motorosports division to include in their 1992 and on Integra s. The GS-R Integra was just what they had in mind. The spring debut of the new GS-R model, which came with a 160 horsepower 1.7 liter, four-cylinder engine was equipped with the VTEC (Variable Valve Timing and Lift Electronic Control) technology (Pettitt 1996). Though this wonderful machine only came in a three door hatchback with a five speed manual transmission, it caught the eye of the public dramatically (Integra Sources 1998). With reviews such as The power! Exiting a corner and getting on it, there s no waiting for the acceleration to occur (R&T 1992). This engine was by far the best Honda Motor Company has ever thought of. The result is the highest-output-per-liter, normally aspirated production automotive engine sold in the U.S. 160 bhp from just under 1.7 liters, or 95 bhp per liter (Reynolds 1993).

The 1994 and previous model was a remarkable new vehicle from the bottom on up. This year the GS model was completely deleted and the RS base model took up the slack of the loss of the GS by offering both body styles; the three door hatchback and the four-door sedan (Pettitt 1996). The RS and the LS featured basically the same engine as the 1992-1993 Integra, but was more refined to crank out as much as the 1.8-liter could give, 142 horsepower at 6,300 r.p.m. (Conti 1994). In previous years, the GS-R series was limited to the three-door model, but this year you could get a four-door with the awesome new 1.8-liter VTEC engine. The new 1.8-liter, four-cylinder VTEC pumped out 170 horsepower, 10 more than the previous 1.7-liter, four-cylinder. The three trim level Integra, the RS, LS, and GS-R, came standard with a five-speed manual transmission, but the RS and LS came with an optional electronic four-speed automatic transmission. The most recent version of the Integra, the 1999 model, sports the same body and engine. Acura has not given any mention of a new version of the Integra to come out, but I would expect one debuting in the year 2000.

The Acura Integra has been among the most desirable sports coupe on the market. To anyone who is even casually familiar with this particular breed of vehicle, this comes as no surprise. The Integra has consistently set the standard of performance, precision, handling and response. The Integra has been one of the best selling imports in its class for the last 12 years that it has been with the American public. It has caught the eye of all ages, especially the younger generation that like to modify these machines and race them out. Satisfying the customer, the Acura Motors division has assessed what customers want and has helped bring the Japanese import reputation to what it is today.

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..To Monterey Road & Track January 1990.

All pictures provided by either Road and Track Magazine, Acura, or Honda


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