Acura apparently has admitted that they are not up there with the likes of Mercedez, BMW, or even Lexus at a recent dealer meeting. Starting next year, Acura will make a huge “shift” to tier 1 although I suspect that this shift will probably just the start of something big, not necessarily the “it” factor, so expect results in 2-3 years time. Here’s the summary of what Acura shift will be. Articles and witty commentary after the click. Continue reading
On 11 February 2008, Honda officially announced the all new Accord for Europe. Building from previous success of the Accord lineage in Europe, Honda rebuild it with extensive and ground breaking technology for safety, performance and environmental awareness (how much does Honda paid me to write this stuff?).
Frankly, I’ve never been a “wagon person”, I’m more into the sedan crowd. However, after seeing the Accord Euro Wagon, I’m amazed how the design can excite me so much. Personally I consider wagons design take their cue from a hearse, but not this Accord. Well, if I have to be snobby, this Accord Wagon also looks like a hearse, but a cool, futuristic, jet age hearse. I want my dead body to be carried on that hearse.
And… We also have the usual sedan guise for the Accord. I have to admit, the design is a stark reminder of previous generation Accord Euro but with a more modern and cool feel. Honda take the cue of past design and redo it perfectly… So why the fat Accord (American/Asian Accord or Japanese Inspire) looks like… Well, it looks like vanilla compared to Accord Euro’s Triple Chocolate Chip Raspberry Durian Surprise (I want to make that ice cream flavor).
Now let’s talk about its safety feature and everything else…
To say that this car is safe, we have a lot more and I should emphasize this, A LOT MORE to talk about. Unlike those auto company whom claim that their cars are the safest needs to worry a lot about this car. For its safety package (some are optional) Honda offers several step ups for the all new Accord Euro. First, let’s talk about its active safety package. The all new Accord Euro has Motion Adaptive Electronic Power Steering. This steering aid is not just your average electric driven power steering, it also detects instability in slippery conditions both during cornering and under braking and automatically initiates steering inputs aimed at prompting the driver to steer in the correct direction. Being a front wheel driven car, this system benefits a lot during aqua planing, a situation where the steering suddenly jerks towards a deep puddle when the front wheel is running through it. There’s also Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA), where brakes are applied to left and right wheels and automatic engine modulation to maintain trajectory stability. Both systems are a standard across the Accord Euro range. There’s also the usual complete set of airbags, brake assists, ABS, and every boring safety stuff in the current automotive world.
Then we have the Advanced Driving Aid System (ADAS) which is optional for the car, and I have to say, you got to have it. The ADAS is a combination of three system, the Lane Keep Assist System (LKAS), the Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), and the Collision Mitigation Brake System (CMBS). Weird marketingless acronym and technical jargon aside, the ADAS is the most complete active safety package Honda currently offers, only lacking the infrared vision found on Honda Legend and automatic parallel parking feature. Let’s break the ADAS system one by one:
- LKAS, like the name implied is a system that monitors your current heading on the road and maintains straight line through seamless torque steer input. A camera monitors the traffic lane to knows where the car is in relation to the road. Of course, you still need to turn sharp bends manually, this system only maintains straight heading and light bends.
- ACC, it’s one of my dream feature for a car. Unlike regular Cruise Control, Adaptive Cruise Control uses milimeter wave radar to judge the distance between the Accord Euro and the car in front of it. The speed of the car then reduced and increased (to the limit we set) automatically in relation to the car in front of it. This way, your right foot is literally free from the pedal on highways, especially in combination with the CMBS.
- CMBS, is a braking system that monitors the speed and distance towards an object in front of the car. If there’s a pending obstruction or another car, it will first warn the driver of pending crash, and if the warning is not heed, the car will brake automatically, gradually and then full stop. This is a cool feature that every car must have in my opinion. Using the same milimeter wave radar on the ACC, the car will notify the driver by jerking his seatbelt if there’s a “drastic reduce” in speed of the object in front of it. If the jerking is not enough, it will then applies the brake.
I don’t condone the use of excessive driving aids actually, it makes the driver less apparent towards the condition of the road. Honda is aware of this and doesn’t apply the full auto pilot control of the car to the itself. The LKAS for example, it can actually turn for itself on gradual bends (not sharp) and thus making the car totally self driving. However, if the car noticed that you are not holding the steering wheel, it will tell you to hold it back… Or what? Don’t know… Potentially, the car can drive for itself for 15 seconds before the LKAS system asks you to hold back the steering wheel again. After all, the LKAS only maintains straight line given you manually steer the car. Theres’ a video link I put about how ADAS system works at the end of the entry.
Powering the car will be three engines, all new for 2008 Accord Euro. A 2L i-VTEC engine producing 156 ps, revised to deliver better fuel economy, a 2.4L i-VTEC producing 200ps (the engine that is used on Acura TSX), and the all new i-DTEC diesel engine. As the second generation diesel engine from Honda, it produces 150ps from a 2.2L, up from 140ps from the passing i-CTDI engine and it is claimed to be more frugal. All engine complies to Euro-5 emission standard that will be effective next September. Just for comparison, my country only recently adopts Euro-2 emission standard (that’s 3 level below Euro-5). All engine type have a choice of 6-speed manual or 5-speed auto sans the diesel which only available in manual trim. However there are rumors abound that next year it will be offered with 5-speed auto. Probably current generation automatic Honda transmission couldn’t handle the abundance of torque generated from the engine.
That’s that for the all new Honda Accord Euro 2008 sedan and wagon. As usual, the car will come to North America under the guise of Acura TSX. I actually like the Acura grill better, let’s hope the ADAS system makes it to the states because it could be that “luxury” item Acura needs (pending the V8, full size flagship sedan and supercar).
Source and viewing material
Finally, Acura of America officially released some words about the launching date of its successful TSX model. The 2nd generation TSX will be launched in New York International Auto Show on mid March. Pending further photos, here is one official one from Acura.
Above is the picture of 2009 Acura TSX to be launched sometimes middle of this year or earlier. Honda/Acura of America uses advance year model to describe brand new model year. You know, like those fashion magazine, February edition is launched in January and so on… This is actually quite a novel marketing concept, I’ll discuss about it later on.’
The model pictured above doesn’t have front parking sensor like the Accord Euro Wagon teaser picture.
Oh, Acura TSX is also Honda Accord Euro sedan with different bumper/grill combo, as like the picture from the teaser ad for it.
Wow… I’m actually speechless, the car looks sweet indeed. It is not so much different than current generation Accord Euro Tourer, but somehow it’s sharper and leaner from this angle. For those in the not know, Accord Tourer is essentially a wagon version of Honda Accord Euro, or more famous in America as Acura TSX. The picture is taken somewhere north of the world’s hemisphere (from the license plate). The original poster on Temple Of VTEC forum didn’t state the origin.
Above are several photos regarding Honda Accord Euro in transit on a transport truck in Japan. I can now able take an assumption from all of those pictures regarding Honda plan for their products. As you can see from my previous post about refreshed Acura RL, this new Accord Euro/Acura TSX have similar backlights, it has that curved midpoints just like the RL albeit longer. The front end (estimation from the Accord Euro Wagon) also looks similar to the RL, from the hood line straight down to the front grill. Honda probably wanted to seamlessly update their product portfolio so we can see clear distinction between Honda and Acura. After all, Honda is planning to make Acura as a separate entity, this Accord Euro/Acura TSX might be the last “rebranded” product.
Behold, the 2009 Acura RL, the most expensive minor model change (MMC) Honda luxury division, Acura ever done to a single vehicle. New for this MMC is… Well, it’s just too many actually, but let’s take a look one by one as we peel the outer shell of the new Acura RL into its inner core.
From the outside, Acura brings about massive changes to the front and rear end styling of the car. Beginning from the front, the headlamp, the grill, and the bumper has been totally revised. New for the MMC RL is a streamlined design of hood, grill and bumper. As you can see, there’s a crease running from the base of the engine hood (the nearest point to the front window) straight down to the lower line of the bumper, before, this crease stops at the lower bumper area where it met with a large air duct. For 2009 model, the air duct is replaced with a uniformed bulge and crease from the hood, streamlining the whole front fascia. The headlight also changed, from the usual tear drop shape to now… Well, I should say that the designer pay a homage to BMW 5 series headlight.
The rear end also got a massive treatment, for this MMC, Acura designers only left one thing, it still retains dual exhaust, and that’s it, everything else is changed. The original 3rd generation Acura RL has a large rearlights housing the turning signal, brake lights and the reverse lights. For the MMC Acura RL, the reverse lights are now separated and is put on the chrome panel on top of the name plate holder. The “flower” shaped brake lights and turn signal are now replaced with a full LED lights for both. The rear lights housing also moved slightly towards the front and a bit more curved, giving it an edgier look. The lower bumper is revised and given a crease, the muffler tips are fatter, giving it again an edgier look. The overall design is not just for show, it is claimed that at high speed, the new rear design actually reduces lift… No need for that huge ricey wings for this baby to carve the road.
On the inside, according to Temple Of VTEC reports, is that the rear seating area is enlarged. There are no definitive data or claim how much it is bigger, but probably would not be much. One poster mentioned about the rear roofline is moved further back, indicating larger seating area though. The overall design also changed, there are a lot of minute changes, you can see it at Acura website later when the car’s website is fully launched. Suffice to say, the most important things are: Larger rear seating area, better sound insulation, lots of visual changes.
And now we come into the most interesting part… The drivetrain, the engine, gear, SH-AWD system and some more. For this MMC, Acura gone the whole nine yard by offering the same engine found on the successful Acura MDX in the refreshed RL. A nice round 300 HP and 271 lb-ft of torque from a 3.7L VTEC engine will propel the car with ease. However, don’t let the MDX engine pedigree fool you, this is a revised engine with some important changes. This 3.7L V6 VTEC engine is equipped with VTEC valvetrain system for both the intake and the exhaust valve, it used to be only on the intake side. The intake manifold is a dual stage design, as can be operated in single or dual plenum manifold depending on the engine load.
As always, the car features Acura own advanced all wheel drive system, dubbed the Super Handling All Wheel Drive system or simply SH-AWD; Unique because it vectors torque to the outside rear wheels during aggressive cornering to maintain balance of the car. For the refreshed Acura RL, the computer management system seems to be updated to allow quicker respond on high twist areas.
Now for the witty commentary…
On Temple Of VTEC news post about the car, there are lots of users who complaints about the car looks. To me they are talking nonsense and more gibberish than fact. The car is basically the same car as it is 3 years ago, a refreshed model this scale is more than enough for Acura to rewrite its Acura RL saga. Before, the RL was deemed as too boring and plain looking as a true “flagship” product. I even personally called the RL as a super Accord, because dimension wise it looks like Honda Accord, it underpins the same platform, but it uses large V6 engine and snazzy all wheel drive system… Which was tested on a modified 7th generation Honda Accord.
Before the 2008 MDX was launched, Acura basically doesn’t have any flagship product to be proud of. The new MDX is the crème de la crème, it won many accolades as the best luxury SUV in America, but the RL… Well, it’s just an old man car (a reliable, boring car). With this refreshed RL model, I believe Acura can turn for the best, as it is now more daring and kind of show that the car is actually expensive. Before, well, suffice to say that the RL is looking rather… affordable. I’ll be talking about Acura history and why it’s not up there with the big dogs at separate entry.
For the haters out there, really… Don’t buy the refreshed Acura RL. Sometimes, we need to slap our loved ones to bring them out of nightmare. So please do boycott Acura RL if you (whomever you are who claims wanted to buy Acura RL but didn’t because it is ugly) doesn’t like the car, spread rumors, spread hate words and convince them to buy Infiniti or Lexus. That way, Honda/Acura would listen and make the next generation Acura RL a real killer.
P.S. Almost forgot to add some info, Acura RL = Honda Legend in Japan and Europe. So expect to see the same visual changes fo Honda Legend soon.
Exit strategy is an integral part of a management function and nobody in their right management mind would ever omit such basic concept. Exit strategy is known by many as the penultimate or the very lastest (is that even a word?) thing that a manager would undertake in their corporate life. It’s not far from the truth though, as exit strategy will always means that, exit, the last step. However, every management book author, every educated manager, and every entrepreneur out there will always consider and managed exit strategy at the beginning of their career or at the start of the business. How is this so? Are they already considering defeat even at the earliest stage? Well this is a defining NO.
Exit Strategy For The Business
Linda Pinson, the author of “Anatomy of a Business Plan”, offers an excellent analogy why exit strategy has to be implemented right at the planning stage of the business itself. She wrote about a runner needs to know where he/she is going to finish the race. This is an excellent analogy for me because it exemplify what exit strategy really means. Well logically speaking using the analogy from the author, the runner capability obviously is limited, they have to know the range of the track first and adapt their running pace to win the race. If they didn’t know about the length of the track, the runner will exert their maximum force and got exhausted nowhere near the middle of the track. A good runner will spread their pace according to the length of the track, and keep a small amount of stamina for that last stride.
Business world is akin to runners on the track field, in that, each company has its own capability that can only be spread so much in its entire life span. Therefore one must apply exit strategy at planning phase of the business to accurately apply the overall strategy during the business life span. This is also what Linda Pinson wrote on her book, she even goes to length by defining that exit strategy defines a business financial plan, taxation plan, even its overall management decision. A very nice book indeed, I suggest every aspiring entrepreneur to read her book.
Exit Strategy doesn’t just apply to the overall business world, but also applies to the people who work there. One very good example of how exit strategy is used in the employee level of corporate life is the succession planning. How often in your corporate life that a good manager left from the company you are working for and there are no suitable people to replace him/her? My guess is… A lot, especially in a developing country such as mine.
Succession planning in a way is an exit strategy for the company who employs that person. Without proper succession planning, most often than not a company will lose its asset and will distort its daily balanced function.
Like some old guy (me) said, “a great manager is hard to groom, but a great manager is harder to find”. Basically, what I meant is that, it is easier to educate a good manager to great from within the company than to find a great manager from outside of the company. Pardon my lack of source, but on my MBA class, grooming manager from inside of the company for western companies are more preferable than just to find it from outside of the company. As this has several advantages being:
- That person already knows the culture of the company.
- He is already known by the people who will work for him.
- Company-client-media relationship will be intact because there are no need to have another introducing sequence between all three.
But somehow, some company still thinks that people who work for them are just people who work for them. They are not an asset by any long shot, nor they are an integral aspect of the company. Therefore, when somebody quits, the company will just say “ow, it’s the natural cause of things” or “that’s good, employee regeneration/fresh blood is always needed in the company”. To me, this is stupid and the wrongest concept of seeing employee as a tool rather than an asset. This actually happened on my current workplace, I’ll tattle about it on the example section along with the example of exit strategy for the business world.
Exit Strategy For Us
That’s what exit strategy means if its seen from the context of the business, but one can see exit strategy in our own life, out of the hustle and bustle of the corporate life. When we work for somebody, then our fate of working there is left to chance because simply we are just drones. Out of that 3rd “heat” or the inevitable such as economic downturn, natural disasters and so forth, we couldn’t be 100% sure of our future in that company. Out of the reasons stated above, we can get fired as soon it happens.
This is actually something that I wanted to share, it’s not based on any books or any classes that I have been into. Therefore accuracy is questionable but personally I think it’s something that is nice to know, so here goes.
We have in our life, multiple planning, no? Well, you ought to have it. In my lifetime, I’ve failed 4 of my biggest plan in my life. Luckily, I always have an exit strategy handy when all of those plans didn’t work out. For me, hatching a plan A, plan B, through plan Z will be never enough in our lifetime. Life will always change for the best or for the worse. To establish many plans for our life will be tiresome, not counting you have to keep in track and appropriately launch each and every plan for any given situation. For that reason, we only need to devise several solid plans that we can oversee with ease and then we devise an exit strategy.
The exit strategy in this context is not relevant to the mentioned business world application of the above, but rather, exit strategy in our life refers to hatching up another set of plan when the first set of plan didn’t work. For example, when you work on some company, you will have some plans devised to get promoted, yes? Of course… Then you planned to get the boss’s heart by buying him gifts, but he can’t be “bought”, so you buy his/her right hand man gifts to win favor so they will talk sweet things about you to the boss. That’s plan A and B right there. But what if your boss and his/her right hand person can’t be bought, and there’s a termination meeting, and… it’s so happen to be, your name is on that termination list? Well, this is the time when you got to have an exit strategy handy.
Exit strategy in this context means that you got to have another means of what to do after the inevitable happens. Exit strategy is not necessarily hard to hatch, because mostly it involves finding a new path your life and you creates the plans after you step into that path first. In the case of said example above, finding a new job or create your own business is the exit strategy. While it’s quite difficult setting up for a business, the subsequent plans can be made after the business has been established.
Again, this is a personal view of exit strategy. However, having some sort of getting out plan from your existing condition warrants a careful thought of exit strategy.
The Witty Examples
I’ve written about how exit strategy should be considered at the beginning of the planning stage of a business, and now let’s take a look at some examples.
A practical advice from Businesslink stated some exit strategy outcomes from different perspective of businesses. The article also further strengthen Linda Pinson’s book that exit strategy determines the overall long term strategy of the business. Basically, if you plan your business right, at the end of it you have to sell it for profit, groom or pick a successor for it, or just abandon it. Exit strategy determines those three outcomes from the declining phase of a business or your life cycle.
My step mom owns a quite profitable small bakery shop. However, she doesn’t want to expand the business by opening up branches or even introduce new bread or cakes. Why is this so? Because her exit strategy is to sell the shop when she is no longer able to run it anymore. An excerpt from Entrepreneur.com probably describes what my step mom is doing with her bakery, “a money in the wallet is no longer a money in the business”. This is because my step mom is taking any profits from the bakery straight to her wallet, not intending to reinvest them back to the business. On Entrepreneur.com article, this company is called a lifestyle company, because well… Its sole existence is to support the lifestyle of the owner.
Another good example of exit strategy or the lack of said thing is in the place where I worked for. So I work in a… Well, that would be telling isn’t it? Anyway, I once worked for one of the largest publishing company in my country as a journalist/reporter/editor/talk show host/desktop artist/superman. My boss has just been recently promoted to vice general manager for the division, but one peculiar thing is that, even after his promotion, there are nobody who inherently succeeds him. He is now a vice general manager for the division but still, every managerial aspects must go through him first. Essentially, the higher ups failed to implement exit strategy/succession planning for my boss, because he now essentially works in two place at once although his focus is still being vice general manager of the division. Because of it, work condition is chaotic at best, red tapes are getting longer and work paces become awfully slow.
Now, succession planning is also an integral part of exit strategy, because if not, then what happens in my workplace will be common in any workplace. Succession planning as an exit strategy on my step mom’s bakery could work if she wanted the shop to go 2nd generation. However, as my step brother is enjoying his stock broker related high lifestyle, and my father needs more assurance of my capability, the bakery would most likely in 95% confidence interval be sold to somebody.
There you go, exit strategy and why we all got to have it.
Sources and recommended readings:
The guys at Temple Of VTEC never ceases to amaze me. After a slew of definite past news, now one of its member managed to take two pictures of the supposedly Acura TSX/Accord Euro Sedan being tested in America. I wonder why Honda/Acura tests its brand new car in a suburban area? You can click the thumbnail for larger pictures.
From the frontal view, the car is a dead ringer to the teaser pictures of Accord Euro wagon. It looks… How to say it, normal… Again, we are talking about Honda, the producer of boring looking cars which surprises us in every turn. Oh by the way, I’ve found a dry ground not long after evacuating with my trusty notebook, next up, exit strategy and why we all got to have it!