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Acura to kill slow-selling CL coupe in fall
Despite good looks and performance, buyers never warmed to it
Bowing to a steady sales decline, Honda's upscale Acura Division says it will stop production of the eight-year-old CL coupe in late fall.

"Its sales were certainly a part of the reason, but we also want to focus our R&D, product development and dealers on products that would be better for the division and would have higher customer demand," Acura spokesman Mike Spencer says.

The CL is built on the same Marysville, Ohio, assembly line as the Honda Accord and Acura 3.2TL sedan.

Given the plant's stretched capacity, Spencer says, Honda is placing a higher priority on those models.

The CL is in its second generation. A derivative of the popular Accord platform, it was most recently re-engineered in February 2000 as a 2001 model. But coupe sales are fickle and Acura had to make several quick changes to keep it fresh.

For the 2003 model year, Acura offered a 6-speed manual transmission to appeal to performance-oriented customers.

Acura also gave the vehicle a last-ditch marketing effort last spring, as part of a luxury-performance campaign aimed at its target market.

Despite those moves, CL sales in the U.S. last year plummeted to 12,072 from 18,993 in 2001 - a decline of 36.4 per cent. Canadian buyers accounted for 740 sales in 2002, down 22 per cent from the previous year.

The decline has continued this year. For the year through April, the CL's American sales are off 35.5 per cent from a year earlier to 2,974 units.

When introduced, Acura had hoped to sell 20,000 models a year. The coupe's U.S. sales peaked at 28,939 units in 1997.

"You hope to get two good years out of a coupe," Spencer says.

With the just-launched TSX sedan and a replacement for the 3.2TL coming this fall - both running in the same mid- to high-$30,000 price arena - Acura dealers will have their hands full emphasizing those cars, Spencer says.

When asked whether there might be another CL coupe in the future, Spencer says, "Never say never."
 
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