Executive Remarks from the North American International Auto Show Acura Press Conference
Jan 12, 2016
Jon Ikeda – Vice President and General Manager, Acura Division, American Honda Motor Co., Inc.:
Good morning and welcome!
It's early I know, but we're going to kick things off this morning with a bang with some new and challenging ideas for the future of our Acura brand. So thanks for joining us!
As some of you may recall, in my former role leading the Acura Design Studio, I appeared on this stage several times as part of the team that created new Acura models here in North America. Today, I'm honored to be here in my new responsibility as the head of Acura Sales in the U.S.
We're on the cusp of a major milestone in the history of Acura. In March, we'll celebrate our 30th anniversary as a brand, the first ever luxury marque from a Japanese automaker, a brand that has really changed the landscape of our business in some pretty important ways.
Now, three decades go by pretty quickly, and I can personally attest to that. Because when I joined this company 26 years ago, one of the main attractions was the Acura brand and its commitment to precision crafted automobiles. Products like the Legend and Integra, and of course, the NSX.
Now, my job, and that of our entire Acura team, is to accelerate our progress, and continue the positive momentum, by sharpening our focus on our core brand DNA.
We've done a lot of soul searching, thinking deeply, as a team, about our core values, and what they mean for the future of this brand. In the process, we reaffirmed, that for the customer, there is no more clear promise for the Acura brand than Precision Crafted Performance.
We're committed to infusing this core Acura promise into every facet of our relationship with the customer. This is something you will see coming to life through our products, our brand communications, like the new TV spot that opened the press conference, and throughout our entire client experience.
From the beginning, Acura has always been about performance. Not only speed or power, but elegantly designed and engineered products that stir the soul, harness innovative technology on a foundation of industry-leading quality and reliability.
This is the essence of Acura, our purpose and authentic nature, past, present and future. And as a team we're recommitting ourselves to Precision Crafted Performance as the north star of the brand. And you can see this coming to life now.
We're on the eve of launching the all-new 2017 Acura NSX, and last month, we were excited to announce pricing and the customer's path to ordering our new supercar.
But NSX is more than just an iconic new product. It is a pinnacle expression of our Acura DNA. Because NSX will deliver Precision Crafted Performance, with incredible speed, fidelity, quality and zero delay, together with dynamic styling, amazing innovative technology, and challenging new methods of manufacturing for world-class quality and craftsmanship.
These are essential elements of what we mean by Precision Crafted Performance, and this new NSX will be held up as the gold standard by which we judge every new product and every facet of our Acura customer experience.
If you're thinking that sounds like a tall order, well, you would be right. Thanks in part to the high bar that we helped establish some 30 years ago, the luxury marketplace is a very different competitive environment today.
So, to set a new standard again, we have some big, bold and challenging dreams for Acura, and today is about the next big step in that plan. Achieving all of our dreams for Acura will require courage, conviction and an unwavering commitment to our Precision Crafted Performance DNA.
And we're fortunate to have with us today our global leader Mr. Hachigo, who brings all three of these attributes to our business.
I have known him for many years from his work inside Honda R&D, this includes his two years in a leadership role at our Los Angeles R&D Center. In fact, he was with us in LA when we made the decision to build the Acura Design Studio in California.
Which makes it appropriate and an incredible honor to have him with us today for the global debut of our new Acura concept model.
Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the President and CEO of Honda Motor Company, Mr. Takahiro Hachigo.
Takahiro Hachigo – President and CEO, Honda Motor Co., Ltd:
Thank you, Jon.
I joined Honda in 1982, as the idea for our new premium brand was coming to life.
Our concept was not traditional luxury, but a new idea, born out of our commitment to Precision Crafted Performance.
With Acura, we became the first Japanese automaker to take on the challenge of the luxury automotive marketplace. Now, I want to use the 30th anniversary of Acura to set the direction of the Acura brand for the next 30 years.
The mission of Acura has not changed. We will challenge to create products that demonstrate Acura DNA to compete with the best luxury competition.
The NSX is an example of this direction. When it comes to market this spring, it will not follow conventional thinking about supercars. It will offer advanced technology, advanced design and timeless NSX values. Our commitment to Acura doesn't end there.
The Acura brand is one of our highest priority goals for global Honda. And we are investing tremendous resources in the Acura brand.
This includes the next generation NSX and the new plant in Ohio that will build it. It includes the next generation of Acura SUVs, which already are among the market leaders, and we will continue to make them even stronger. And we will challenge to create the next generation of Acura sedans with our performance DNA.
But this is not only about powertrains. We must show performance through design.
And that is what we plan for you today.
I'm proud to have been part of the team that established the Acura Design Studio in California. Today, I'm pleased to introduce a new concept model that was created by the design team at this Acura studio.
This is the start to the next 30 years of Acura. We will reshape the brand around Precision Crafted Performance, every product and the entire customer experience. That`s why we call this concept model the Acura Precision Concept.
Ladies and gentlemen, a model that will set the direction for the future of Acura design.
Please welcome, the global debut of the Acura Precision Concept.
Dave Marek – Global Creative Director, Acura Division, American Honda Motor Co., Inc.:
Good morning everyone. And welcome to the future of Acura design.
With an emphasis on high contrast details, and the intersection of modern, sheer surfaces and muscular, organic sculpting, the Acura Precision Concept is more than simply a concept vehicle. This is a design study model that literally will shape the direction of all future Acura products.
It continues in the Acura styling direction we call "alluring modern edge", that's alluring proportion, modern surfacing and edgy detail. It's a direction that demonstrates our commitment to strengthen Acura design around proportion, prestige and performance.
The Proportion of this Acura Precision Concept is, well, almost supercar low and wide with a longer dash-to-axle ratio to communicate power.
We emphasize Prestige through crafted surfacing on the outside, matched by the use of real materials and cantilevered surfaces on the inside.
And Performance. We exude performance with deeply sculpted surfaces pouring over the rear haunches, wider wheels and tires, these Jewel Constellation headlights, which take our signature lighting toward an even bolder and brighter future and a more open grille that feeds air to the powertrain.
Around back you see the floating taillights, with the entire surface behind the light scalloped out to create a look that is both lightweight and strong.
And whether you are looking at details from far away, or up close, you can feel precision crafted performance, by the way the design elements keep drawing you in emotionally.
The front fascia of a vehicle is critical, it's an essential opportunity to dramatically draw attention to what a brand stands for.
This new, open grille projects a dynamic, performance image. We call this the
"Diamond Pentagon", the biggest and boldest expression of the Acura marque we've ever had. It's a sign of our confidence in the brand, and is creating a road map for where Acura design is heading. In fact, you won't need to look too far into the future to see this new grille treatment on a production vehicle.
One of the more unique aspects of this Acura Precision Concept is what we call
Quantum Continuum design that seamlessly transitions structure and materials from exterior to interior, expressing precision craftsmanship throughout.
When you open the doors, you see the big rocker section flowing into the side sill, which then transitions into a cantilever for the floating rear seats.
In a similar way, the CHMSL becomes a sculptural element, piercing the rear glass then flowing down to help form the structure of the rear headrests.
And we're looking to carry this inside-outside approach into our production lineup, a challenging design element that will speak to Acura precision craftsmanship.
Now, as important as the exterior styling is for communicating performance, the interior is where we were intent on delivering a new premium experience.
The seating plays an important role in creating two unique environments inside the cabin.
The front row expresses the performance aspect of the brand, with a darker tone that plays on the negative space. This is the driver's area. The instrument panel sports a double-layered structure covered in stitched leather surfaces, providing a lightweight and high contrast image.
The second row is the premium area, with seating designed like fine, modern lounge furniture, thin, shapely and surprisingly ergonomic.
Lighter colors create a premium environment and a nice visual contrast between the front and rear of the cabin. There are small details throughout like the hidden speaker grilles made of wood on the front and rear doors.
This concept also introduces the next generation HMI that helps create a dramatic new interior image. The dual personal surface of the instrument panel houses a thin, wide and curved center screen that creates a more immersive experience, bridging the gap between home theatre and car. The retractable screen displays information depending on the task, while the navi map remains constantly visible in the center of the screen.
This is all part of a new HMI experience that becomes your own personal assistant.
The system uses artificial intelligence to provide a more intuitive and instinctive connection between the car and the user. For instance, it uses facial recognition to identify the driver and then pull information from its own memory, the user's device and the cloud, to customize the driver's experience. Including audio and vehicle performance settings and navi guidance based on your calendar appointments.
The large upper screen is operated through a touch pad that is suspended on a cantilevered bridge, literally a floating center stack. Conceptually, we wanted to maintain the sculptural and emotional gestures in the metal. And this center panel showcases the form language that enhances the cabin's lightweight feeling.
The micrometer above the steering column has been stripped of it's housing and designed for performance.
In sport mode, the speedometer will operate like a tachometer, while the wide screen will populate vehicle info and turn-by-turn guidance, with a head-up display serving as the primary driver's display.
Both the micro meter and HUD are designed to integrate seamlessly with the center screen and provide the driver with curated content and data, when they need it and
where they need it.
The compact steering wheel provides a strong performance grip that enhances the
sporty look and feel that ties into the rectangular shape of the NSX steering wheel.
The paddle shifters, typically mounted behind the wheel, are mounted out front, along with an IDS button controlling five driving modes, to present an even stronger performance image.
This renewed focus on our roots of "Precision Crafted Performance", is the right direction for the Acura brand, embracing our heritage, and taking it aggressively into the future. That's why this is my favorite concept we have ever done.
The importance of this Acura Precision Concept is not only in what it is, but what it says about the future of Acura design. For luxury buyers, styling is not just about fitting their lifestyle, it's about changing their lifestyle.
And the Acura Precision Concept is the leading edge of a renewed commitment to changing the discussion, to delivering Precision Crafted Performance in every facet of the product experience.
Look, at the end of the day, the essence of design is, you see this car, you see us.
Thank you for your attention.
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