Have you recently wondered, “What would the face of the redesigned Civic look like plastered on a desert-ready racing truck?” Honda has your number. This is the new Ridgeline.
Except it’s not.
The Japanese automaker announced its return to the Baja 1000 at SEMA on Tuesday and revealed the machine that will carry HPD’s HR35TT race engine — a 550 horsepower, a 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6 — across the finish line.
Anonymous sources tell the always on-point pickuptrucks.com that Honda will not be replacing its Ridgeline pickup when its lifecycle ends after the 2011 model year. Honda is refusing comment on the Ridgeline’s future, but did tell AL.com that production will continue through 2011, and that “as of right now, we have no plans to discontinue Ridgeline.” But from a sales perspective, Honda might do well to let the unibody pickup die of natural causes. Though the unconventional Ridgeline came close its initial sales goals of about 50k units per year for the first three years of its life, by 2008 sales had dropped to 33,875. Last year the sales drop snowballed, with a 51 percent volume drop to 16,464 units. So yeah, we’ve been noticing that Honda seems less than completely enthused about its tentative attempt at the truck market. The end could well be near. Hilarious counterpoint to Howie Long’s video (above) available here.
All this endless speculation as to whether Honda will someday build a real RWD pickup: they already did, in 1963. And in that inimitable Honda way, it stood the world on it ears: DOHC, four carbs, 30hp from 360cc at 8,600 rpm, 60 mph top speed. As an antidote to the mild-mannered Hondas sent our way in the seventies and early eighties, like the gen1 Prelude, the T360/T500 trucks were anything but boring. But the story of how this eminently practical little truck ended up with the engine from Honda’s crazy little S360 sports car is a wild tale only Honda could spin. (Read More…)
Pickuptrucks.com‘s Mike Levine snapped this shot of Honda’s NAIAS booth, indicating that the Motor Company might not be quite as proud of its unibody truck as it once was. Ridgeline sold 16,464 units last year, less than half of its 2008 volume. Honda’s Alabama plant, where the Ridgeline is assembled alongside the Pilot, saw its output drop 35 percent in 2009. Having tried the unibody option that so many formerly truck-dependent firms now see as an alternative to body-on-frame offerings, it seems doubtful that Honda would recommend it to any of them. When it comes to the truck market, there are no easy answers.