A “perfect storm” of market conditions may prompt Honda to move assembly of its upcoming flagship, the 2014 Acura RLX
, from Japan to the United States.
First, the stigma that U.S.-built luxury cars can’t rival the build quality of Japanese or German models is no longer valid. BMW builds X3 and X6 models in Spartanburg, South Carolina for worldwide distribution, and Mercedes-Benz builds M Class, R Class and GL Class models in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
Even Acura’s flagship sports coupe, the upcoming NSX hybrid
, will be designed and built on these shores. It makes sense, then, that Acura’s flagship sedan, rumored to benefit from the same type of hybrid all-wheel-drive layout (in range-topping models, anyway) will also be built in the United States.
Confirmation seems to come from The Japan Times
), which reports that Honda will halt production of two sedan models at its plant in Saitama Prefecture, Japan. On that list is the Honda Legend, sold here as the current Acura RL
There are financial reasons to move production to the U.S. as well. A strong Japanese yen and a weak U.S. dollar mean that it’s expensive to build cars in Japan, requiring automakers to raise prices or accept lower margins. Domestic production would help to lower costs and preserve margins, putting more money in Honda’s coffers.
Honda desperately needs the RL’s replacement to be a hit, since it’s sold just 182 RL sedans through May of this year. That’s down from 766 units in the same period of 2011, a sales decline of over 76-percent.