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Steel this car!

1 September 2001
"As you know, the Acura NSX -- designed as a real sports car with a mid-ship engine -- was the world's first all-aluminum production car. It was a breakthrough when it was introduced in 1990. However, due to the extensive use of costly aluminum stamped parts at a low volume of production -- the price of the NSX is over 70 thousand dollars."

Honda should offer a steel bodied NSX. Think about it. Honda would offer the same car you have now, in aluminum, for the same price, but also produce a production NSX out of steel. By mass producing the body, Honda could save you about, say, $17K, off the price of $89K. That brings the price to $72K.

Sure, the car would be 220 lbs heavier in steel, but throw in some weight saving measures. Replace the $4.5K (each) seats with some light weight Recaros, saves at least $6K more, and a lot of poundage. Heck, throw out the engine cover, just punch one out of mesh,etc... In other words, Honda could make a much cheaper car that is almost as good. It wouldn't drive worse than when your (fat) girlfriend is in the car with you. So why did they go with aluminum?

Well, according to this article, Honda needed to make the car expensive. Interestingly, it also claims the aluminum body offers better break-away characteristics:

"It is the higher stiffness properties of aluminum that Honda engineers demanded when designing the Acura NSX sports car. Since the company wanted to market a high-cost, high performance sports car Honda's engineers were given the freedom to design the maximum levels of efficiency into the structure. Honda's engineers compute-modeled hundreds of comparisons between the NSX concept car in both steel-bodied and aluminum-bodied forms.
The differences between an aluminum structure and one of conventional steel led the company to produce the car with aluminum. The computer modeling Honda's engineers showed that, in an actual crash-avoidance situation, the aluminum vehicle would be less inclined to slip sideways in a turn before losing traction, assuming all parameters were equal between the two cars.
Translated to an actual driving situation, the aluminum vehicle stands a much greater chance of safely performing a severe avoidance maneuver than a steel one, due simply to the greater stiffness of the aluminum structure."

Anyhow, it would be nice if the NSX hung around after the next flagship car is introduced, in some form, or another.

Next flagship?

"Honda, who've already given us the eco-friendly Honda Insight, have now decided that for the idea to catch on, it needs a sexier profile. Which is why the 2004 NSX supercar will feature the technology. The rear wheels will be powered by a highly-tuned 3.5 litre V6, with the fronts being driven by electric motors. Combined, the car will have a Ferrari 360 Modena-rivalling 400 bhp with the added bonus of all-wheel traction."

"Hybrid NSX: The March 26th, 2001 issue of the Japanese publication Best Car Magazine reported that the next version of the Honda NSX (badged the Acura NSX in North America) will be a lot more similar to the Insight that previously expected. In October, 2001, similar information was published in U.K. magazine Auto Express.
The NSX is Honda's high performance mid-engine super car; the closest thing anyone with $84,000 USD can come to driving a Honda Formula 1 race car.
The NSX is produced at the same low-volume factory in Tochigi, Japan where the Insight is produced. Like the Insight, the NSX is one of a few all-aluminum bodied cars that are on the market today (others being the Audi A2, Audi A8 and Chrysler's Prowler). It was in fact partially Honda's experience building the all-aluminum NSX that made it possible to build the all-aluminum Insight in production numbers.
Despite previous rumors to the contrary, Best Car Magazine now claims that the next version of the NSX will continue to have an all-aluminum body.
More interestingly, they also report that it will use Honda's IMA hybrid technology. Here, though, the focus wouldn't be on energy & fuel efficiency, but on boosting performance to an even higher level. Nonetheless, it would also allow for an improvement in fuel efficiency, an area where the NSX already stands well above similar exotic automobiles.
Auto Express describes the new NSX as a 400bhp version of the Insight, though the hybrid layout they describe is quite different. They describe the new NSX as keeping the mid-mounted ICE (3.5L V6), but adding an electric motor to drive the front wheels, making the car a 4WD. Auto Express also reports that testing of the new NSX is already underway at Honda's Japanese research and development center. It is reported that the new NSX is to be available in 2004."

"Honda won't have the ability to produce both the Insight & new NSX" This is nonsense. Even assuming that the rumors of the new NSX continuing to be an aluminum bodied car with IMA are accurate, there is no reason to expect this to impact Insight production. The Takanezawa Plant where Honda produces special low volume vehicles such as the NSX, Insight & S2000 has been specifically tooled for flexibility, allowing the same equipment to be used for producing different vehicles."

sources: http://www.autoaluminum.org/washtime.htm http://www.motornet.ie/news/articles/05110102.phtml http://www.insightcentral.net/faq-misc.html http://www.insightcentral.net/tsunoda.html
Originally posted by MAJOR STONER:
Sure, the car would be 220 lbs heavier in steel

According to this book, the chassis - including doors and deck lids but not fenders - weighs 40 percent less than it would using steel (which would make it 350 kg instead of 210 kg). Thus the difference is well over 300 pounds.

I am under the impression that each NSX is manufactured at a significant loss to Honda. I am thinking in the order thousands or tens of thousands of dollars.

To make NSX cost less (or be less non-profitable), I would think the key is volume/mass-production: I would think the difference between steel and aluminum (especially given the processes present today for building using aluminum), is very small if mass produced.

But even if Honda could sell 7,500 steel NSXs a year, it would probably still not be profitable: They'd probably still loose money on each steel copy (just slightly less than they do on the existing aluminum ones). :-)
Originally posted by Ojas:

But even if Honda could sell 7,500 steel NSXs a year, it would probably still not be profitable: They'd probably still loose money on each steel copy (just slightly less than they do on the existing aluminum ones). :-)

I wouldn't even want a NSX if they sold 7,500 a year.
I wouldn't even want a NSX if they sold 7,500 a year.


By the power vested in me, I now anoint you to be a large turd. Hmmm, not interested in an NSX? Why subscribe to the forum?
Ummmm. well if they are only selling a few hundred a year and loosing money on each one why would they even consider selling 7500 and loosing money on each one.

For that matter, why not just show the car to the media and NOT sell any at all. They get the publicity and exposure (a prime goal of the NSX I believe), save money by not selling any at a loss, and of course make the value of our existing cars skyrocket!

Just an idea.

P.S. I vote for the electric motors concept if you can leave the batteries at home!
I would also be hesitant on purchasing a weekend toy that was mass produced.

If I wanted a high performance mass produced car, I would get the M3.

For me, a mass produced car, even at 7500, seems less desirable.

[This message has been edited by wctsao (edited 13 March 2002).]
I understand and agree with what CK posted. We all know what a great automobile the NSX is, and I believe that it's rarity and exclusiveness makes it all the more special. Driving around virtually anywhere, one can see all numbers of BMW, Porsche, Vette, etc, etc, but seeing another NSX is a rare delight, few and far between. I enjoy standing apart from the crowds of owners of those other marques, many of whom probably only own those cars because they are symbols of what they can own, not because they respect and appreciate a great high-performance sports car. I say thanks to Honda for keeping the NSX so exclusive. As long as we can get parts for those rare times we need them, I hope the sales numbers stay low. JMO, YMMV