Acura NSX
(Photo/Acura)

It’s Official: Next-Gen Acura NSX Will Be Battery-Electric

While the last Acura NSX has rolled off the assembly line, it won’t be relinquished to automotive history. The Japanese luxury brand will be working up a third-generation supercar, this one going all-electric, according to brand chief Jon Ikeda.

First introduced in 1990, the NSX has served as a halo car for the Acura brand, in its original form showing the potential of a lightweight aluminum body before being dropped after a 15-year run.

A second-generation NSX returned as a 2017 model, this time Acura showing the potential of a three-motor gas-electric hybrid capable of launching from 0-60 in just 2.9 seconds. When a third version of the supercar makes its eventual return, Ikeda said, it will take a new turn.

“It’s going to be (all-)electric,” Jon Ikeda, Vice President and Acura Brand Officer of America Honda Motor Co., said in an exclusive interview, highlighting Acura’s upcoming shift in powertrain technology.

Acura NSX
2022 Acura NSX Type S, the last of the current gen cars alongside its granddad; (photo/Acura)

We’ll Have to Wait at Least 4 Years

Like its mainstream parent, Honda, the Acura brand has been slow to embrace battery-electric propulsion, sticking with hybrid and plug-in hybrid systems. But that’s about to change.

The automaker unveiled the Precision Performance Concept at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance earlier this month. Days later, it confirmed its first production battery-electric vehicle will debut in 2024 under the ZDX badge.

Like the Honda Prologue debuting the same year, the ZDX will be the result of a joint venture with General Motors, and based on GM’s all-electric Ultium architecture. 

A home-grown platform, dubbed the e:Architecture, will be shared by both the Honda and Acura brands — though it’s not expected to reach production until 2026. It will underpin a number of future battery-electric vehicles, including the third-generation NSX.

And that means at least a four-year gap before the supercar would return to production. However, one well-placed insider suggested the next NSX could be one of the first — if not the very first — Acura based on the e:Architecture.

Providing a Halo

That would fit its role as a halo nameplate and provide a clear indication of what the new battery-car platform is technically capable of. 

Battery propulsion systems are, by nature, capable of delivering some impressive performance, said Ikeda, as electric motors deliver maximum torque the moment they start spinning. 

And a number of automakers are putting that to good use. Even mainstream models like the Hyundai Ioniq 5, Kia EV6, and Volkswagen ID.4 can deliver sports car-level 0-60 times, depending upon their configuration.

Extreme machines, such as the Tesla Model S Plaid and Lucid Air Dream Performance edition, are matching some of the fastest launches ever, at barely 2 seconds. And Croatia’s Rimac is hinting at a new model that could cut even that time in half.

More Than Just 0-60 Times

But there’s a big difference between “straight-line performance” and the sort of road dynamics that define a true supercar,” said Ikeda. “We’ve never been just about 0-60 times,” and so, just like the second-generation model, a battery-electric NSX will put a premium on “fun-to-drive elements,” notably steering and handling.

That suggests the automaker will come up with a new version of its torque-vectoring Super-Handling All-Wheel-Drive, or SH-AWD, technology.

While Ikeda left open a slight possibility that parent Honda might decide not to bring back the NSX, Stephanie Brinley, the principal auto analyst with IHS Markit, sees a new version of the supercar as a necessity.

“It would be good for Acura” to come up with an all-electric model that backs up the “Precision Crafted storyline” the brand is using to describe its new, more sporty direction.

Acura NSX
(Photo/Acura)

NSX EV: Acura’s Future

And even though conventional passenger cars may have lost significant momentum in recent years, as the U.S. market shifts to SUVs and CUVs, “people still want sports cars,” Brinley said.

As with the first two versions of the NSX, Ikeda suggested that the next NSX won’t necessarily stick around indefinitely. 

“The NSX is not like a (Porsche) 911, where you build a continuing series. It’s an innovation platform” that, in all-electric form, will stick around long enough to give Acura a chance “to talk about our future.”

Paul Eisenstein
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Paul A. Eisenstein is an award-winning publisher, photographer, editor, and one of the world’s most widely published automotive journalists. His work appears in a wide range of print, broadcast, and electronic outlets, including AutoWise, GearJunkie, NBC News, Forbes Wheels, and his own automotive website, TheDetroitBureau.com. He’s a North American Car and Truck of the Year juror, and board member and past president of the Automotive Press Association. J.D. Power also named him a “Pioneer of the Internet."