Honda Curbs Its Enthusiasm
As Martin Schwoerer has pointed out, Honda is in the midst of a green-oriented rebranding. Formula One efforts and the NSX “replacement” have already been canceled, as we’ce reported. According to Autocar, more enthusiast-oriented programs are being slashed as weak markets meet green branding initiative. Planned rear-drive Acura models, including development of a V8 engine are off the table due to poor demand for luxury models. These models were planned to compete with BMW’s 3,5 and 7 series. Honda has also canned plans for a S2000 replacement, leaving it without any kind of sports car in its portfolio. Though the eagerly-anticipated CR-Z coupe is still a go, a convertible roadster version will not be pursued. This isn’t great news for enthusiasts, who have long seen Honda as the most sporting of the Japanese big three. In reality, Honda has been steadily moving away from its enthusiast roots for years now.
Nissan’s GTR, 350/370Z and Altima have largely wrested the “mainstream import brand for enthusiasts” crown from Honda in recent years. Similarly, Inifiniti, Lexus and the Hyundai Genesis await any attempt to move Acura above its current entry-level, practical luxury brand. Instead, it seems that Honda is sniping at undersupplied sections of the market. It would seem that the Insight Hybrid is the new face of Honda’s corporate strategy, as it ditches an attempt to offer value upmarket (where sales are way down) in favor of offering value in the Prius-dominated hybrid market. The Insight and a forthcoming Fit Hybrid may not seem sexy to many enthusiasts, but Honda’s long-term approach is eminently pragmatic at a time when the market requires nothing less. Besides, as I may have mentioned once or twice, the enthusiast in me is plenty excited about the forthcoming CR-Z.
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