Acura Charging Forward With New ZDX, With Help From GM

Acura, the premium arm of American Honda Motor Co., has been gaining momentum since the 2016 introduction of its second-generation NSX sports car. The model made waves for its sleek design and hybrid powertrain.

The reveal of the Acura Precision EV Concept is meant to strike a similar tone, delivering the future of the automaker on a platter for customers, without giving too much away. The automakers is now revealing more about their vision and the purpose of the concept sport utility vehicle (SUV).

In a roundtable interview with reporters, Jon Ikeda, Acura's vice president and brand officer; Emile Korker, assistant vice president of Acura sales; and Dave Marek, executive creative director of Acura laid out the company's product lineup plans for much of the next decade, including design and electrification information.

Korker made it clear, "We need to get the volume and we need to get it quickly," when talking about electric vehicles. To do that, the company is relying on General Motors (GM) technology and manufacturing, bringing a new battery electric vehicle (BEV) to market in 2024 based on the Ultium platform that underpins the Cadillac Lyriq.

Acura Precision EV Concept at The Quail
The Acura Precision EV Concept takes center stage at The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering. American Honda Motor Co.

The model will be named "ZDX", a name pulled from the Acura nomenclature parts bin. Acura used the name on a high-riding hatchback from 2009 to 2013. It was the sister vehicle to the Honda Crosstour.

The new ZDX is not an extension of the previous ZDX, Ikeda told Newsweek, describing the previous model as the "best expression of Acura design". It is a whole new vehicle.

"Acura's original ZDX was an oddball vehicle when it was released and in many ways it was ahead of its time; a performance-oriented, SUV-based vehicle that put style before practicality," Autolist's editor-in-chief Dave Undercoffler told Newsweek. "These days, there are plenty of German models that fit that bill (BMW X4 and X6, Audi Q5 Sportback and Q8, Mercedes-Benz GLC and GLE Coupes)."

It's also not an electric take on the three-row MDX SUV. The ZDX has a longer body and longer dash-over-axle ratio. And, it will be the company's new flagship model.

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Acura is committed to producing a new ZDX and a ZDX Type S, pulling the brand's already established nomenclature for the model, which will offer higher levels of performance than the typical ZDX. The automaker already offers the NSX Type S, TLX Type S and MDX Type S as part of its lineup.

The ZDX name was a natural fit for this Acura, Korker explained. The company had history with it, already owned the trademark, and they could pass off the "Z" as standing for "zero emissions".

"Since its brief tenure, the ZDX has maintained a small but loyal following, but certainly not one big enough to think that Acura is leveraging the nameplate's reputation or brand equity to move the needle with its upcoming EV. Instead, this seems to be a rebrand born out of convenience; Acura owns the trademark and the ZDX name doesn't have a negative association to it, so there's no harm in resurrecting for a new model," Undercoffler said.

The ZDX is a first step in Acura's BEV plan. The second step is a battery production deal between American Honda Motor Co. and LG Energy Systems (LGES). The joint venture will establish a plant that aims to have an annual production capacity of approximately 40 gigawatt-hours (GWh) at the cost of $4.4 billion.

The next step is a trial production of a solid state battery, a move the Acura management team calls "the end game for us".

ZDX production will be the "tip of the spear" for electric vehicles from Honda in America. After its one-and-done collaboration with GM, Acura looks to bring three EV models to market, one each in 2026, 2027 and 2028.