Remarks by John Mendel
Good afternoon, and welcome to the Acura Press Conference. This is a great turnout, and I want to thank you all for coming. As you just saw, Acura has come a long way in 20 years and it's been very exciting. But I assure you...the best is yet to come.
As we enter our third decade in America, I'm proud to say that our products and performance have never been better. Last year we had a huge year! In fact a record year. In 2005, Acura sold nearly 210,000 units. That's the strongest sales performance in the history of our brand. This clearly places Acura as one of the leading performance luxury brands in the United States.
In 2005, we had record sales for RL, TL, and TSX,. We've certainly have come a long way from that prediction you just saw in that clip from the Today show... when many people in our industry did not believe that any Japanese manufacturer could create a successful luxury line. Our record sales helped our Acura dealer body realize one of their strongest years ever, as well. We built our success last year by doing what we do best- bringing products to market that are forward-thinking and ahead of the competition. Our stronghold has been, and will continue to be, technology: Customer relevant technology that provides real benefits to Acura owners and enriches their driving experience.
For example, the Acura RL was the first vehicle in North America equipped with the real-time traffic system. It's not just some gadget, it is useful technology. When you can avoid a traffic jam, you save time, and have more free time outside of your car. It's another example, in a long list of ways, that Acura vehicles are enhancing the driving experience. Acura technologies are also ensuring that our customers are driving some of the safest vehicles on the road today. Take, for example, Acura's collision mitigation braking system featured on the Acura RL. A grille-mounted radar measures the distance between RL and the car in front of it, and automatically applies the brakes, if it detects an impending rear-end collision. It's offered as part of the technology package on RL that includes adaptive cruise control and run-flat tires.
For the past 20 years, Acura's innovation has resulted in many industry firsts; including all-aluminum unit body construction, titanium connecting rods, in-dash navigation system, DVD-Audio, and more ... We were also the first luxury import to produce a U.S designed, engineered, and manufactured vehicle. And as I said earlier...the best is yet to come. And speaking of the future... Well, why tell you, when I can show you...
Well, here it is...the all new Acura RDX! We saw a growing need in the market - the need for a premium entry SUV especially designed to meet the diverse needs of today's urban warrior.
According to industry forecasts, this segment will grow over 500% in the next 5 years. And RDX is positioned right in the sweet spot of this segment with its unmatched combination of performance and design.
It combines the sportiness, power, and fun-to-drive aspect of a sports sedan...with the functionality of a SUV. We first introduced the RDX concept in 2002...and last year, we showed you a concept much closer to the real vehicle...today you see a prototype vehicle that's "near production."
RDX is an Urban Adventure Vehicle...a new SUV that expands the Acura lineup, and will attract a younger, more active buyer to the brand. RDX is smaller than the MDX, and compares in size to the BMW X3. I mentioned earlier that advanced technology-technology that really matters to people-is a key part of Acura's DNA-and RDX is an excellent example of this.
RDX performance begins with Acura's first turbocharged engine...a 2.3-liter, 4-cylinder. This revolutionary i-VTEC Turbo technology is exclusive to Acura. As you would expect from Acura, this turbocharger is something pretty special. It delivers excellent fuel economy without compromising performance....generating 240 horsepower with 260 lbs-ft of torque. That's better than many V-6 powered SUVs. RDX is also equipped with Acura's Super Handling All-wheel drive system. We have re-tuned and re-configured this system specifically for RDX... to emphasize torque management, both front-to-rear, and side-to-side.
This groundbreaking technology, which is an Acura exclusive, dramatically enhances handling and stability during sporty driving as well as in inclement weather. Built on an all-new, global light truck platform, with the energy dispersing ACE body structure, RDX also uses Acura's Vehicle Stability Assist for enhanced handling. As attractive as RDX is outside, it impresses even more when you step inside the cabin.
To begin with, RDX features the Acura-link-equipped navigation with real-time traffic...and the ELS DVD-Audio surround sound system. Operating these systems is as simple as touching a button. RDX features steering wheel mounted paddle shifters. This "racerlike" shifting interface sends an instant message that RDX delivers the sporty performance drivers in this segment expect.
Functionality for an urban street vehicle means offering comfortable seating-- and plenty of storage. RDX has plenty of both...Take a look at the secure compartment right in the center console...perfect storage for an urban warrior's weapon...their laptop computer. And for the weekend, the rear seats fold flat, providing ample cargo space. You can store two mountain bikes in here, for example.
OK...that's a quick look at RDX. It will be manufactured in Marysville Ohio, and go on sale this summer. And, we have high expectations for this very exciting vehicle...But this is just the beginning for Acura in 2006. We are excited about what is coming down the pipeline this next year, as we continue to deliver more technological advances that will enrich the driving experience. Our committment to building Acura in the US for the past 20 years brings us to the present, where I would like to talk about Acura's global future.
As we announced yesterday, later this year, Acura will launch in China, and in 2008 we will launch in Japan. Acura is taking another bold step by opening a new Acura design studio in early 2007. All of us at Acura are very excited to take these next steps in becoming a global luxury brand. As you've seen today ...Acura will continue to drive ahead for many years to come. I would like to thank you all for your time and attention this afternoon...and invite you to please come to the stage for a closer look at the all-new Acura RDX.