Honda Engineers And US Execs Agreed: The CR-Z Shouldn't Have Been Built
When the production version of the Honda CR-Z debuted at the Detroit Auto Show, TTAC’s judgment was swift and harsh. Paul Niedermeyer’s piece “Why The Honda CR-Z Is So Ugly And Should Never Have Been Built” met with more agreement than dissent, and with good reason. Even though the hybrid coupe is still months away from going on sale, Honda engineers and dealers are already talking about their misgivings about the project, belying the project’s lack of originality and its poor chances for commercial success. CR-Z Chief Engineer Norio Tomobe describes his struggle to initiate the project to Automotive News [sub].
We had serious doubts about whether this would bring new value. I really struggled for a new idea, and we decided to start over from scratch. The hybrid finally gave us the wow factor.
This also marked the point where Honda’s US bosses started to lose interest in the project.
According to Tomobe, Honda’s US boss Tetsuo Iwamura “derided” prototypes of the car, but was eventually overruled by then-R&D boss (and current CEO) Takanobu Ito. He characterizes Iwamura’s concerns as follows:
In the American market, people equate hybrids with the Prius. If the hybrid is sporty, it’s going to confuse the customers and dealers. It’s ironic that the United States was the most vocal in saying they didn’t want the car, but the CR-Z still made its world debut at the Detroit motor show
But what does Tomobe think of the finished product? It needs “more horsepower,” he tells AN [sub], but:
I’m satisfied. This is what the future of sports cars will be for Honda. We are not pursuing absolute maximum speed. What we aim for is a car that is exhilarating to drive.
And with the Type R version Tomobe hints at, Honda might get there. In the meantime, the planned efficiency numbers don’t excatly make a stellar “green” case for the car either. And if this subpar mileage and performance sounds familiar, it’s probably because the CR-Z is largely built around components from Honda’s underwhelming Insight hybrid. According to what AN [sub[ has gleaned from its interview with tomobe, “it has the same engine room, front flooring, fuel tank and hybrid system. The motor, battery and inverter essentially are the same as the Insight’s.”
Honda has all but admitted that the Insight is not up to snuff, and based on this public mea culpa, it sounds like they’re already managing expectations for the CR-Z. Or sabotaging the wee hybrid coupe before it can make a case for itself. Either way, not good.
More by Edward Niedermeyer
Latest Car ReviewsRead more
Latest Product ReviewsRead more
- Analoggrotto Buyers are skipping these in droves and heading down to sign the golden paperwork for a new Telluride. ATPs speak volumes and we have 'em. Our customers are telling us that we offer Mercedes quality for a better deal, and our suite of luxury features rivals any luxury automaker. Insult me all you want, but AVMs, DSDs and BSODs tell the truth.
- Ted Lulis The Exodus from California is mind-boggling. No surprise from the rectum of the country
- Mr Imperial Seeing the adjusted-for-inflation amount always makes me sick, I can't believe how much it has gone up in my 40-some-odd trips around the sun. Still fondly remember seeing these and Ford Explorers everywhere.
- Kyl65759578 👋
- ToolGuy I appreciate the thoughtful comments from the little people here, and I would like to remind everyone that Ford Motor Company offers a full range of vehicles which are ideal for any driving environment including New York City. The size and weight our of product portfolio has been fully and completely optimized to be friendly to the planet and friendly to pedestrians while consuming the bare minimum of resources from our precious planet (I am of course a lifelong environmentalist). Plus, our performance models will help you move forward and upward by conquering obstacles and limits such as congestion and your fellow humans more quickly at a higher rate of speed. I invite you to learn more at our website.Signed, William Clay Ford Jr.