Smug­gling the only way in

If you want a new Honda NSX you’ll have to go grey to get it, writes JAMES STAN­FORD in Thai­land

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Prestige -

IF YOU have your heart set on buy­ing a new Honda NSX su­per car you are go­ing to have to rely on grey-mar­ket im­ports. That is the word from Honda’s Asia and Ocea­nia chief Fu­mi­hiko Ike.

The V10 two-seater is set for sales in 2010 but Aus­tralia is not on the radar.

‘‘No of­fi­cial ex­ports, but maybe smug­glers (bring them),’’ Ike says of the sales plan.

Honda’s pre­mium-brand Acura is at the heart of the prob­lem. It’s planned that the NSX will wear Acura badges only for sales in the US. The log­i­cal con­clu­sion is the NSX could sim­ply be sold with a Honda badge in some coun­tries, but Ike says that could cause a prob­lem.

‘‘In­ter­nally we are try­ing to har­monise the pol­icy be­cause NSX is ex­clu­sively for the Acura brand. But now we are not bring­ing the brand to Asia.’’

He says there may be strong re­sis­tance from the US if Honda badg­ing is used on the NSX, that it would ‘‘di­lute the im­age’’ of the Acura. ‘‘So that is a big dilemma for us,’’ Ike says. He says Acura in the US is strug­gling. It has been ham­pered by the lack of V8 en­gines or rear-drive sedans and adds the NSX is re­quired to boost its pro­file.

‘‘We ini­ti­ated the NSX for the sake of the US mar­ket. How to re­build the Acura brand in the US, that is our pri­or­ity,’’ Ike says.

Honda Aus­tralia manag­ing di­rec­tor Ya­suhide Mizuno says he still hopes some­thing can be done to en­able the NSX to make it to Aus­tralia.

‘‘We are still hope­ful,’’ he says. ‘‘It is go­ing to be a fan­tas­tic car.’’

Mizuno notes the Honda Leg­end is al­ready sold as an Acura in the US and as a Honda in other mar­kets such as Ja­pan and Aus­tralia. He hopes Honda man­age­ment will de­cide to al­low the NSX to be sold as a Honda.

Honda Aus­tralia has pre­vi­ously dis­cussed the pos­si­bil­ity of bring­ing the Acura brand to Aus­tralia. Acura is Honda’s ver­sion of Lexus, which is the pres­tige arm of Toy­ota and has been in­creas­ing its global sales.

Nis­san also has a lux­ury divi­sion called In­finiti, which is de­signed to cater to the US mar­ket. De­spite fail­ing dis­mally the first time (In­finiti was in Aus­tralia in the mid-1990s), Nis­san plans to bring the brand back here.

Honda pre­lude: the sleek and stun­ning looks of the Acura con­cept with (be­low) Honda’s orig­i­nal NSX.

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