Fancy a high-tech supercar with a load of cash on the hood to help defray the downpayment? The 2019 Acura NSX has a $20,000 discount off whatever price you can negotiate.
The incentive is not listed on the Acura.com consumer website, but research by MotorTrend affiliate IntelliChoice into JATO Dynamics data uncovered the secret incentive on the exotic hybrid, which starts at $159,300. And it’s not going away any time soon, as JATO says the incentive has been booked through March 31, 2020.
Although Acura updated the 2019 NSX to our liking, sales of the NSX had been slowing. In 2018, Acura sold only 170 units, compared to a still-modest 581 in 2017 and 269 in an abbreviated 2016. So far, the incentive appears to be working; much of the NSX’s 42 percent year-to-date sales increase came after the incentive was quietly launched in mid-March.
Sales of high-priced, low-volume exotic vehicles are more prone to the whims of those One Percenters who want the latest, greatest tech. As such, sales show more volatility on a percentage basis month to month. Usually, executives of mass-market brands give those niche sales numbers little notice compared to their volume vehicles. But having exotic cars stacking up is not a good look.
The $20,000 incentive is the highest-known incentive in the industry. Next closest is $9,000 consumer cash on the aging Jaguar XJ, according to IntelliChoice. That said, information for niche supercar brands is not readily available, as the brands tend to be discreet and use non-cash discounts (such as factory-to-dealer cash for under-the-table discounts or lease-residual subvention) to move the sheetmetal.
Acura spokesman Andrew Quillin said the incentive is limited to the 2019 model, “of which there are just a handful of U.S. allocations remaining before we shift focus to [model year 2020]. The incentive provides an enticement to those buyers considering one of the final few build-to-order slots.”
Further, when viewed as a percentage of MSRP, the incentive on NSX is less than 14 percent. “These larger-than-usual amounts generally align with incentives for other segments,” Quillin said. “NSX continues to play a critical role in our effort to refocus Acura around performance, both on road and track.”
Decreasing demand for supercars
Acura is not alone in seeing its exotic car sales decline. According to auto sales tracking website GoodCarBadCar, sales of “premium sports cars” fell from 21,034 in 2017 to 18,188 last year. The BMW i8, for example, saw sales drop from 2,265 units in 2016 to 488 in 2017 before rebounding to 772 last year; through April of this year, it has seen a 42-percent increase. And the venerable Nissan GT-R saw sales fall to 538 last year from several years in the 1,200-unit range.
In a March 2018 interview, Acura boss Jon Ikeda said, “The key is build-to-order. Dealers want one in their store. Now we’re racing with [Roger Penske], we have GT3 race cars, and we have posters on the walls of dealerships. You add to that a shiny red NSX, you give a test drive, and sell an A-Spec MDX. The NSX has many purposes beyond sales. It’s a halo, a flagship.”
MotorTrend recently published a theory that economic recessions tend to follow the release of supercars by automakers not traditionally known for building exotics. But might the slowing demand for older supercars, requiring big cash-on-the-hood offers, also be a sign that woeful economic times are fast approaching? Stay tuned.