“We’re going to take the brand to the next level and have a much better focus on the brand in general and a good starting point for that is to build a studio and design products that are truly Acura,” says Jon Ikeda, who heads Acura design in the U.S. So the luxury division of Honda has built a $15-million design facility in Torrance, CA, to accomplish their goal. Before moving into their new home, Acura’s 40 design staffers had to share space with counterparts at parent Honda’s design office nearby. Two years ago the Acura team declared their early independence by designating a portion of the joint studio to their brand. The attempts to delineate Acura were not that successful however, as designers working on Civics would work right next to those working on TLs. Designers at the new U.S. studio will work in conjunction with Acura designers in Japan on developing a wide range of Acura-specific products, while better focusing the brand on attaining premium status. “‘Advance’ is the message we are trying to put into Acura. We’re trying to fast-forward the future here,” Ikeda says.
The new design facility includes a system that enables designers to display full-size virtual vehicles. “The advantage of having a tool like this is if you have a coupe and a sedan version of the same product, we could have the physical sedan mockup right next to the coupe on the screen and see how they relate to one another,” Ikeda says.—KMK