Every major automaker has a different way of relating between its various divisions and brands. At Volkswagen, for example, the individual brands seem to operate with a large degree of autonomy. Under the Renault-Nissan Alliance, the two units share a common chief executive, but little else. The relationship between Honda and its luxury division Acura has always been rather close, but that's all about to change.

American Honda Motor Company has always handled sales and marketing in the North American market for both the Honda and Acura divisions, but new reorganization plans call for the two units to be separated under their own direction. Leading the Acura division will be Michael Accavitti, who moves into the position from his role as Senior Vice President for Auto Operations at American Honda. The Honda division will meanwhile be taken over by the current head of Acura sales, Jeff Conrad.

Both will report to John Mendel, the current executive vice president of the Automobile Sales Division that is being rebranded as the American Honda Auto Division. Unlike rivals Lexus and Infiniti – two brands that Acura beat to the market – Honda barely markets its luxury brand outside of North America. Its overseas presence is felt only in China, though we've yet to receive word on how the reorganization might effect that market – or for that matter, any potential of expanding into others.

This reorganization is seen as a vital step in revitalizing the Acura brand, accompanied by a product line overhaul that's concentrating on new sedans like the ILX, TLX and RLX, but also promises to yield new crossovers and the new NSX as its halo model. The reorganization takes effect on April 1, which may ring some alarm bells on the hoax-o-meter, but this wouldn't strike us as a very funny joke if it were one. Scroll down for the official announcement.
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American Honda Strengthens Auto Sales Division to Accelerate Sales Growth of Honda and Acura Brands
03/10/2014 - TORRANCE, CA

American Honda Motor Co., Inc., will strategically realign its automobile sales and marketing operations into separate divisions organized by brand, as the Honda Division and Acura Division. The moves, effective April 1, are intended to create greater clarity and more cohesive sales and marketing plans that are right for the products and customers of each brand.

In conjunction with the strategy, the following executive changes were announced:

Michael Accavitti will become senior vice president and general manager of the Acura Division. In his new role, Accavitti will be responsible for all sales, marketing and parts and service business for the Acura brand. Accavitti joined Honda in 2011, and is currently the senior vice president of Auto Operations, which includes responsibility for national marketing for the Honda and Acura brands.

Jeff Conrad will become senior vice president and general manager of the Honda Division. Conrad will be responsible for all sales and marketing activities for the Honda brand. Conrad joined American Honda in 1982, and is currently the vice president and general manager of Acura Sales.

American Honda automotive operations have long been separated by function rather than by brand. These moves will result in exclusive divisions, with dedicated sales and marketing teams for Honda and for Acura. Both brands will be housed under a single "American Honda Auto Division" to be headed by John Mendel, executive vice president of what is now called the Automobile Sales Division.

"Our goal is to accelerate the already strong sales growth of the Honda and Acura brands through a more cohesive strategy, with a heightened focus on the unique needs of luxury and mainstream customers," said Mendel. "These moves will more completely align the major activities for the Honda and Acura brands under dedicated brand leaders to take advantage of new opportunities in the marketplace with greater speed and efficiency."

Further, the strategy behind the creation of the Acura Division coincides with the recently announced establishment of a new Acura Business Planning Office, also effective April 1. This new entity will focus on strengthening the business and product strategies for the Acura brand. Erik Berkman, currently president of Honda R&D Americas, Inc., will become an executive vice president of Honda North America, Inc., and will lead the Acura Business Planning Office.

"The realignment strategy that has created a new Acura Division reflects our growing commitment and the increased level of resources and leadership we are focusing on the Acura brand on a global basis," said Mendel.

In addition to steady sales growth for the Honda and Acura brands in each of the past two years, both brands will continue to introduce new models in 2014. This spring, Honda will launch the all-new 2015 Honda Fit, to be followed later this year by an all-new compact Honda SUV. The Acura brand will introduce the all-new 2015 Acura TLX luxury performance sedan by mid-year.

"The best time to make a change is when you're in a position of strength and we are not only coming off a great sales year, we are continuing to create new opportunities with a series of new and exciting Honda and Acura models," said Mendel.

American Honda enjoyed near record automobile sales of 1,525,312 vehicles in 2013, the second best sales total in company history. Sales of Honda brand cars and trucks totaled 1,359,876 vehicles, an increase of 7.4 percent. Honda was led by the success of core models, with the Honda CR-V posting all-time record sales in 2013 to rank as the top-selling SUV in America, the Civic ranking as the top-selling compact car, the Odyssey ranking as the top-selling minivan, and Accord ranking as the best-selling car in America with individual car-buyers.

Sales of Acura brand cars and trucks totaled 165,436 vehicles, an increase of 5.9 percent, and its best sales total since 2007. Further, sales of the Acura MDX and RDX in 2013 combined to achieve Acura's best sales year ever for light trucks.


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  • 209 Comments
      Karfreek
      • 9 Months Ago
      There is a part of me that hopes this will allow Honda to stop worrying about stepping on Acuras toes and offer better content and packages and allow them to be a little less vanilla. *disclosure-I own two Hondas.
      mikeybyte1
      • 9 Months Ago
      I am confused. The title of the article says Acura is being spun off as its own brand. But when you read the article it says that the Sales and Marketing teams are being made independent. That's not the same thing. If there are no changes in the Product side of the organization then how is this major news? It won't change the core product or service side, just how they sell and market it.
      T-Mille
      • 9 Months Ago
      Wasn't it already a separate division?
      James John
      • 9 Months Ago
      Honda used to be a lot edgier and lead the pack. They became too successful and too conservative and fell asleep at the wheel. I remember the old days when you walked into the Honda showroom and there was a waiting list and no deals to be had. That was when they were the "it" car. Now, they are just another car company as others have passed them by.
        Elf
        • 9 Months Ago
        @James John
        I remember shopping an Accord and being told, "Not only will you pay sticker, you MUST have the 'Protection Package,' and on top of that, pay, "ADP." I walked out.
      Boe Dillard
      • 9 Months Ago
      If acura would just listen to their customers, and drop the hideous beak or offer one with the notorious beak and an option for one without the deformity, I'm sure their sales would see at least a 30% increase. They claim they've gotten rid of the beak but that is like shoveling a spoonful of dirt into the Grand Canyon and claiming the canyon is gone. The beak remains as repellent as ever.
      airchompers
      • 9 Months Ago
      Lexus and Infiniti already have comprehensive product portfolios for people who desire Japanese made luxury cars. It'd be foolish for Acura to try to make the next Lexus LS or Infiniti QX56. If we remember Acura's best days the 90s or so, we realize that the best Acuras were just Hondas that commanded high enough prices for Honda to dump some sweet technology in them. Now that everyone and their dog has variable vale timing and 100k mi+ tune ups. Acura should bring back double wishbone Civics that rev to the moon, make AWD Accords with high horsepower engines, and then have a flagship hybrid. It's already got the RLX with the hybrid stuff. The ILX money should have been spent developing another 8/9k engine that meets emissions, and an awesome suspension set up that would give the GTI/S3 a run for its money.
      EvilTollMan
      • 9 Months Ago
      First move should be to get rid of the beak/shield grill. That would be a step in the right direction.
        waetherman
        • 9 Months Ago
        @EvilTollMan
        They can't get rid of the beak - it's the only way you can tell an Acura from a Honda!
      Rick
      • 9 Months Ago
      Better designs and RWD will wake up the brand.
        Karfreek
        • 9 Months Ago
        @Rick
        Agreed. They need to wake up, and go right after the Midsize 5-Series and E-Class market. Acura/Honda can do it, they just need to set their sights on it.
      ChaosphereIX
      • 9 Months Ago
      styling and driving dynamics need to be fixed. Most of all styling. But who cares, they will never get my money.
      Carlos Soto
      • 9 Months Ago
      BMW are more bore than Acura. 1-3-5-7 all are the same theme, just longer wheel base. Audi the same grille over his sedan lineup. Compare a $ 60,000.00 RLX with a same priced 5Series, A6 or Eclass. You will never see this comparision test because Acura will win hands down.
        • 9 Months Ago
        @Carlos Soto
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        NightFlight
        • 9 Months Ago
        @Carlos Soto
        Looks like someone already proved you wrong, Carlos. No one cares about the RLX, that's why the volume isn't there.
          NightFlight
          • 9 Months Ago
          @NightFlight
          Since you can't read, let me repeat myself, the VOLUME isn't there. Who cares about a sales increase of 20 cars a month to 300. That means nothing, because the volume is low. Low volume means nothing, that's why the abomination ZDX is dead.
          NightFlight
          • 9 Months Ago
          @NightFlight
          Yeah, everyone must be wrong. The RLX is an outstanding car, that's why the press has heaped so much praise upon it. Right? /sarcasm See the verbatim quotes above from Edmunds. It is a lackluster car, sold in lackluster numbers to people with no imagination. All aboard the failboat, Acura is sailing soon.
          • 9 Months Ago
          @NightFlight
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          @NightFlight
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      JD444
      • 9 Months Ago
      They need more than pimped out Hondas to compete. It's not the 90's anymore. People can find out instantly that the ILX is a tarted up Civic and the TL is a tarted up Accord.
        Arizonarelax
        • 9 Months Ago
        @JD444
        "Pimped Out?" You are giving Acura far too much credit. Trying to sell an Acura must be embarrassing. I do not see how Acura can survive. Too little too late. Reminds me of the Sterling in the late 80's - nice but a Honda nevertheless with the exception of a much nicer interior.
          carguy1701
          • 9 Months Ago
          @Arizonarelax
          Not to mention British build quality.
      jonnybimmer
      • 9 Months Ago
      Good, let Acura start to develop a more distinct brand identity than just being a luxurious Honda. There are good reasons why Lexus/Toyota and Audi/VW are more distinct from each other than Acura/Honda.
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