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By JASON STEIN | Automotive News

A senior Honda executive told Acura dealers that the brand will boost production to ease tight supplies.

Dick Colliver, executive vice president of sales for American Honda Motor Co., also said at the make meeting that an all-wheel-drive version of the Acura RL sport sedan is a "real strong possibility."

With robust sales in the second half of 2003, Acura finished up 3.2 percent for the year.

Now Acura plans a significant production boost, Colliver said. With new products on the way, Acura expects to sell 185,000 units in the United States this year, up from 170,918 units sold last year.

"We were probably a little tight about our control in the past," Colliver said. "With new product on the way, it gives us a good shot in the arm. We will see more vehicles in the pipeline."

Dealers had voiced concerns last year about tight vehicle supplies. Acura says it will solve that problem by increasing production of the TSX and TL sedans.

"We need the product," said Jim Smail, owner of Smail Acura in Greensburg, Pa. "Now we will have product to match demand. In the past it was a little tight."

Colliver also told dealers to expect an awd version of the RL sport sedan. "It is a real strong possibility," Colliver said after the meeting. But he declined to say whether all-wheel drive would be optional or standard. Acura will debut a concept version of the RL at the New York auto show in April.

At the meeting, dealers asked whether Acura would get a version of the SUT pickup that Honda unveiled in Detroit. Although Honda division will get the pickup, Colliver said it's too early to consider a pickup for Acura.

He said: "Honda hasn't even sold one SUT yet."
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