Honda Mobbed By CR-Z Buyers

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt
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honda mobbed by cr z buyers

Honda is perplexed and overwhelmed by the demand for their just launched CR-Z small sports hybrid car, says The Nikkei [sub]. Honda had planned for 1000 a month, which turned out to be a big mistake. After one month, they already have more than 10,000 orders, and a hard time filling them. They’ve sold in one month what they wanted to sell in a year, more or less, and the orders keep pouring in.

The CR-Z was rolled-out in Japan Feb. 26. Honda wants to launch the hot little number in the U.S. and Europe in the fall season. Combined annual sales target for the three markets is 40,000 to 50,000 units, subject to change. After the Insight flop, Honda could use a strong hybrid seller.

Bertel Schmitt
Bertel Schmitt

Bertel Schmitt comes back to journalism after taking a 35 year break in advertising and marketing. He ran and owned advertising agencies in Duesseldorf, Germany, and New York City. Volkswagen A.G. was Bertel's most important corporate account. Schmitt's advertising and marketing career touched many corners of the industry with a special focus on automotive products and services. Since 2004, he lives in Japan and China with his wife <a href=""> Tomoko </a>. Bertel Schmitt is a founding board member of the <a href=""> Offshore Super Series </a>, an American offshore powerboat racing organization. He is co-owner of the racing team Typhoon.

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  • Charliej5 Charliej5 on Mar 24, 2010

    The CRX was over $7000.00 in 1987 when I bought mine. That probably is fairly close to equivalent to the CRZ price, which we don't know yet. Also, most people did not buy the SI version of the CRX. Most bought the regular version. Who knows what the handling is going to be until the car is on the road. The CRX did not offer "exceptional" handling. Look at the tire size on the CRX, narrow 13 inch tires. The CRX offered lightweight fun, but there was no high "G" cornering power. It was a wonderfully fun car, but don't attribute more to it than was there. Honda also made a high mileage CRX with harder, narrower tires that would get close to 50 mpg. Todays cars will never be as light as cars from the 80's. Too much added poundage from safety equipment. Personally, I will try the CTZ and if I like it, I will buy one. It is not the car for everyone, but no car is. The Mazda Miata is another wonderful light weight fun car, but the readers here call it a "chick car" because it does not have 500 horsepower. Not everyone wants a heavy, high horsepower car.

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    • Toasty Toasty on Mar 24, 2010

      charliej5, the lament many are voicing can be summed up by contrasting the 2006 Civic Si's place in the market to the 2010/2011 CR-Z's. At its debut, relative to the competition, the Si struck a very solid balance between fun, sporty, utility, value, and economy, and it's still a compelling choice in its market segment. In contrast, the CR-Z looks to come up short in those areas, and unfortunately is a stand out in none of them. Whoever was pushing the development of the CR-Z created something that excels at nothing, not even compared to the rest of the Honda line. I'll give the CR-Z points over the Fit on general appearance (and possibly comfort), but it'll likely lose in every other way. Honda never should've promoted the CR-Z as anything resembling "sporty", because it simply can't be with the current drivetrain and weight. A much smarter move for the hybrid market would've been never developing the CR-Z and Insight, and focusing on a hybrid and/or diesel Fit. Those drivetrains could expand on the popularity the Fit has already earned, and would offer a much more compelling car than either the CR-Z or Insight. The Fit has to cost less, definitely offers much greater utility, offers nearly as good fuel economy, and will likely have very similar driving dynamics as the CR-Z. The Civic lineup also beats up on the CR-Z in the same areas. If the CR-Z is having a hard time finding a place to shine on the Honda lot, how will it compete with the rest of the market?

  • StatisticalDolphin StatisticalDolphin on Mar 24, 2010

    It has the same roller skate form factor as the CRX.

  • Steven Lang Steven Lang on Mar 24, 2010

    I honestly don't think most of you actually understand the market for this car. This is a 'personalized' car. * Two seater * Very unique looking compared to anything else out there * Space beyond the two seats is designed primarily for the driver's needs. * Not the 27th version of a 'sports coupe'. The power is turned down but the fun to drive factor in the real world may indeed make it a 'fun hybrid'. * This will NEVER be a mass market vehicle. We're talking about maybe 50,000 units worldwide annually once the 1st year rush takes it's course. Right now this car has one critical advantage that 'personalized cars' like the Miata and PT Cruiser enjoyed during their early run. No competition. A frugal fellow who just wants something fun for their commute and exceptional fuel economy will put the CR-Z on their short list. To be blunt, there isn't anything even remotely like it in today's market. It will be a big hit for Honda. You have been warned.

    • Toasty Toasty on Mar 24, 2010

      @ Steven Lang: Count me among those that don't understand the market for a hybrid with relatively poor fuel economy, that's also a "sporty" car with relatively poor driving dynamics, and that has the benefit of costing as much (or more) than cars that are better hybrids, better sporty cars, and/or better values. "To be blunt, there isn’t anything even remotely like it in today’s market." - That single line snapped everything into focus for me. Subaru thought they'd sell Bajas (nothing else remotely like it in the market) like Honda thinks it'll sell CR-Zs, and I predict similar real world results. I know you know your cars and markets, but as I've said, I believe this car will have a tough time competing against its stablemates. I hope I'm wrong.

  • John R John R on Mar 25, 2010

    How awesome could this car have been if it were a non-hybrid with a 200 horse K20 motor? Damn(!), what a missed opportunity.