Acura’s ZDX announcement shows it could still be a serious player in the EV industry

If you’re a regular reader, you probably know that I’m a little irritated with Honda and Acura, to put it mildly. I have an Acura MDX in my driveway and my wife loves the business. I can’t blame her, because Honda makes decent cars. However, when it unveiled the third-generation MDX, Acura didn’t release an electric or PHEV variant of the vehicle, and the company even cut the hybrid version from production. It seemed like a significant step backwards, and there was friction in my house over which cars to buy in the future.

A bit of context

The company’s recent actions were just the latest in a long line of foolish decisions. At the time, I didn’t know why Acura was neglecting electric vehicles, but I’ve since learned that Japanese manufacturers were struggling with China and rare earth metals (including a complete shutdown), and didn’t want that their economy be at the mercy of Chinese whims. So, instead of investing everything in electric vehicles, we see Japanese manufacturers taking a more diverse approach.

But in recent months, we are starting to see things turn around. Honda (and its flagship Acura brand) are making some decent moves for electric vehicles, even if it means partnering with GM instead of launching their own.

In April 2021, Honda’s global CEO Toshihiro Mibe discussed the company’s plans for electrified vehicle sales as part of its strategy to have carbon neutral products and operations by 2050. vision implies that 100% of North American sales will be battery electric and fuel cell electric vehicles by 2040. Curious readers can learn more about this announcement by clicking here.

In a past story from July, I covered a glimpse the company gave us of its design studio working on the Prologue EV. Not only did it look like the company was doing some innovative things to design its EV, but it was apparently working on building its own version of the next budget Equinox EV.

A month later, we heard about the company’s Acura Precision EV concept. The Acura Design Studio in Los Angeles clearly intended to push the boundaries of Acura design and technology, showcasing Acura’s future vision for electrified vehicles with unique manual driving and full automation experiences.

The Acura ZDX

Now Honda is giving us a glimpse of what it intends to do with its design work and its partnership with GM: Build and sell a new EV crossover called the Acura ZDX. The Acura ZDX will be the brand’s first all-new all-electric SUV to go on sale in 2024, and it will carry the Acura ZDX name. Acura’s focus on performance in the electric age shows with the introduction of a ZDX Type S variant, continuing to prioritize the driver experience. Acura’s new design direction shown at Monterey Car Week as part of the Acura Precision EV concept would render many styling cues seen in today’s models through a production vehicle for the first time.

Unfortunately, Acura has not released any design drawings, renderings, or photos of a production prototype. But, because it’s hinted that it will follow the Precision EV concept’s design language, we know it’s likely to be a more tame and conventional version of what we’ve seen with this concept.

Precision EV concept image courtesy of Acura.

Like the Honda Prologue EV, the ZDX is co-developed with GM, which will use the incredibly versatile global EV platform powered by Ultium batteries. Acura will then launch additional electric cars from 2026, based on the company’s own global e:Architecture.

“The Acura ZDX represents the start of what will be an accelerated path to electrification by the end of the decade and the key role the Acura brand will play in our company’s global goal of achieving carbon neutrality. in 2050,” said Emile Korkor, deputy deputy. President of Acura National Sales. “Acura will remain focused on performance in the age of electrification and the Type S will continue to represent the pinnacle of that direction.”

The new ZDX SUV will be Acura’s first zero-emission vehicle and recalls the original model of the same name. The very first car designed from scratch in Acura Design Studio (which opened in Los Angeles in 2007) was also called ZDX. Likewise, the new version is being designed in this same studio.

These developments indicate that Honda could catch up with electric vehicles

As we’ve pointed out before, and again in this story, we were disappointed with the company’s decisions. But he is making very good decisions that allow him to catch up and be a competitive player in the electric vehicle market.

While partnering with GM, another player that is quite far behind Tesla, may not seem like the best way to go, looks are deceiving. GM hasn’t made many bold moves in the past two years, but it was preparing to focus on an underserved market segment, particularly the $30,000-$35,000 price range. Price cuts for the Bolt EV and its crossover sibling the Bolt EUV, followed by the announcement of a high-performance Equinox EV starting at $30,000 show that GM is very serious about tapping into this market segment. to catch up with Tesla.

Honda’s decision to partner with GM puts it in a position to serve this critical market segment as well, and to do so quickly instead of having to start its EV effort from scratch (and be seriously behind schedule). Plans for at least one Honda-branded EV and one Acura-branded ZDX EV are helping fill the EV gap, and fast.

This buys the company time to develop its own platforms (and learn from GM) to become a serious long-term player in the electric vehicle market. Future high-end Acura and Honda vehicles will be 100% Honda and not a GM-partnered vehicle, but I’d be surprised if they didn’t yet share at least some parts and supply chains with GM as the company moves on. to building its own EV effort.

All of this adds up to real potential for Honda to get back into the game and succeed with electric vehicles.

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