The murky plans to split up Honda and Acura to strengthen the division’s luxury brand in North America became clear with the announcement today of Honda North America’s plan to form a Honda Division and an Acura Division.
The plan calls for a realignment of the company’s sales and marketing organization into the divisions instead of being aligned by function as it had previously. The move follows in the steps of the recent establishment of the Acura Business Planning Office, which is designed to give Acura a more independent path from Honda.
“The goal is to accelerate the already strong sales growth of both the Honda and Acura brands through a more cohesive strategy that we think will bring even greater focus to the unique needs of our Honda and Acura customers,” said John Mendel, executive vice president, Auto Sales, during a conference call today.
Both brands will be housed under a single American Honda Auto Division, Mendel added.
Jeff Conrad, who has been the vice president and general manager of Acura Sales for the past five years, is being promoted to senior vice president general manager of the Honda Division. In this position he will be responsible for all sales and marketing activities for the Honda brand.
Leading the new Acura Division will be Mike Accavitti, who remains as senior vice president, but adds General Manager of the Acura Division to his responsibilities. He will be responsible for all sales and marketing activities, as well as parts & service business for the Acura brand. Both report to Mendel.
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“For Acura, first let me say that this is a very significant step, as it is the first time we have had a separate and exclusive division for the Acura brand,” Mendel said. “So, this move obviously reflects the deep commitment we have for the future of Acura and the timing couldn’t be more critical.”
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The structure now allows for a sole focus on Honda and likewise for Acura. Mendel said it was important to make the changes now while the company was in a strong sales position. Honda sales were up 7.6% last year while Acura posted its best year ever in North America with sales up 6%.
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“The best time to step on the gas is when you’re in a position of strength and collectively we are coming off our second best sales year in company history, with strong results for both brands in 2013,” he said.
“Our time is now to build upon that success and continue introducing new and exciting Honda and Acura models that our customers will want and value.”