By on March 24, 2010

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.

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38 Comments on “Honda Mobbed By CR-Z Buyers...”

  • avatar

    Selling high in Japan doesn’t mean it will sell well in NA or Europe. I do like the sheetmetal style, but the powertrain is just lame for what it looks like (sports coupe/hatch?)

  • avatar

    Early adopter numbers may not be indicative of long term sales.

    There is a lot of discussion about white being the most popular color. White is a very popular color in Japan for automobiles. It looks better in white than the red previously shown.

    • 0 avatar

      True Dat! The PT Cruiser had waiting lists and stealerships selling for $5k over sticker when new. Today it lingers on as a Fleet Queen Zombie.

    • 0 avatar

      I think the PT Cruiser’s decline is more of a result of Daimler neglecting it and failing to update it, as well as dragging it well beyond its sell-by date. It was a good car, but it is now behind the times.

      The craptastic interior they put in in 2006 isn’t exactly helping matters, either.

  • avatar
    Brian E

    Maybe people actually like small coupes? There isn’t a lot of choice in that market right now.

  • avatar

    Same story with the Insight when it launched.

  • avatar

    I don’t like to comment and critique a car until I can actually see it in person and drive it. I would guess the CR-Z is one of the better looking hybrids on the market. From what I’ve read it looks like the CR-Z will be boring in a straight line but looks to be surprisingly agile and fun to drive (making it rare among hybrids).

    Also take into account the nature of a Japanese buyer. They love the next new thing (plus they are not super-sized people like the average US consumer typically is) so I’m sure the pre-orders will not be what Honda will experience in the US.

  • avatar
    cRacK hEaD aLLeY

    Iowa farmers. Texas ranchers.Alaskan hunters: all will drive en mass to their nearest Honda dealer to trade F-350’s and Duramaxes for small sporty 2 seater hybrids, stick shift no less. And in white. I see it Cummings.

  • avatar

    There’s an old saw about the ‘next new thing’ cars that goes something like “If I could have 100K units ready in the first week, I’d sell them all’.

    The addendum is, “I can’t, and therefore, won’t.”

    There was a shortage of Chargers, Challengers, Camaros, Solstii, just to name a few very recent examples. There’s piles of all those vehicles clogging lots, and you can deal on any of them. (OK, I don’t see too many Solstii still clogging lots, but they were giving those little things away.)

    Nature of the biz and all that.

  • avatar

    Maybe people are looking for sporty 2 door cars. Styling will always be a matter of opinion, but many of todays sporty smaller cars are just the standard 4 door entry level vehicle enhanced with a more powerful engine and other performance equipment. They attempt to make these former econo cars more attractive with body cladding, spoilers etc. It doesn’t always work and some people just don’t like 4 door cars. Like another poster said, choices are limited. No 2 doors over at Acura, Toyota, Subaru, Mitsubishi, Mazda,or Nissan in the small car category.

    • 0 avatar

      Maybe people are looking for sporty 2 door cars

      This was in Japan, which is a vastly different market than North America or Europe. “New” is very important, which is why you see a volume and frequency of changes that would be costly and detrimental in another market.

      Remember that this is a country where even the Suzuki X-90 sold kinda well in it’s initial offering.

      Launches in Japan are generally pretty good, but it doesn’t really mean anything about the product’s longevity.

  • avatar

    If positioned as a poor man’s Tesla, perhaps it will get some traction. Then again, the S2000 was a remarkable car and never got the love it deserved.

  • avatar

    I can’t imagine this vehicle having good long term sales. I will never consider one.

    Scotty, on the S2000, it was a good car, but not a great one. Too expensive and not enough power in the low RPMs.

  • avatar

    Market it here in the US for $18,000 and it’ll sell very well to the drifter crowd. I’d want one because of the styling and (assumed) fun to drive factor. Any idea what the current price is in Yen and the equivalent in U$D?

    • 0 avatar

      “Drifter crowd”?

      Are you speaking of transients or drivers that like sliding sideways in their cars? I can’t speak for hobos and such, but I doubt the CR-Z will be popular with the latter. :)

      The CR-Z is too inefficient, too small, and too expensive. Unless the provided fuel economy numbers are quite low, the CR-Z will fail against the Fit, Insight, Civic, and Civic Si. The only thing that’ll give it a chance will be very competitive pricing, but it has to cost more than a Fit, and that puts it squarely in Civic territory. Put the Si’s drivetrain in it and you’d have a fun car, but then there’s still nowhere to slot it into the pricing lineup.

      Sorry, Honda. This isn’t the car we’re looking for.

    • 0 avatar

      I honestly wish someone with the connections in the right crowd explained me why nobody rices up Fit. Perhaps the motor bay is too small to play in it? CR-Z is clearly not the right platform, since it’s a hybrid (unless you basically replace the whole drivetrain).

    • 0 avatar

      Only if people start drifting in reverse. This machine is FWD, like all Honda’s but the S2000.

  • avatar

    One strange thing: the HUEG snout looks much smaller in the head picture of this entry. What happened? Which one is the real one? Is this picture of the prototype or the production car?

  • avatar

    Tarted up, dumbed down, half baked Insight. Ideally, when demand lags, Honda will redeem itself with a 2.0 L CRX si. I am not holding my breath.

    • 0 avatar

      Honda is too busy trying to be greener than Toyota to entertain shipping any more of those scary K20 engines, even if it’d transform the CR-Z into something more palatable. Too bad, because you know someone will do it privately, and it’ll work quite well.

      BTW, the Honda K-sight project car is a winner:

      That’s the direction Honda should be heading with the CR-Z. Batteries Not Included.

  • avatar
    blue adidas

    Chrysler was “mobbed” when they launched the PT Cruiser too. Same with the Neon and the 1st generation Focus. So everyone who wanted one got one pretty quickly, then the demand went away. The attributes of the car didn’t win any converts. There are a lot of similarities between the niche PT and this car. It’ll be a flame that burns out quickly unless they make it better.

  • avatar

    When I first saw the pictures of the car on Honda’s website, I thought “Oh a nice little Honda I can buy used during/out of college” or something along those lines. I don’t care if it is a two-door Insight when it comes to looks. Then I read that it is a two-door Insight, hybrid wise. Now I’ll be hoping Hyundai puts the Veloster concept in actual sheet metal.

  • avatar

    Pete, due to different bumper requirements a lot of small cars are 6” longer in the US than in Japan. I guess you have to be careful parallel parking over there.

    The Insight had a similar initial surge, but I’ve heard this surge is even more unusual (10x instead of the usual 3-4x). I wonder if it’s the 2+2 that’s selling better. The lack of emergency rear seats will be a problem in the ‘States.

  • avatar

    I keep seeing that the CRZ is not a new CRX. How many of you have driven a CRX? I owned a first generation CRX and loved it. But, it was not a fast car. It had 80+ horsepower and light weight. It would not outrun too many cars in a straight line, the fun was in the curves. The CRZ looks to be the same type of car. Not too fast in a straight line, fun in the twisties. I will look at the CRZ when it is at the dealers and decide if I want one. A lack of power will not be the deciding factor in any case. If I want speed I will ride my bike. A CRZ would be just the thing for the wife and I to enjoy in the mountains.

    • 0 avatar

      But in Si form, the CRX was reasonably quick (we owned a 1989 that I still wish we had). The issue with the CRZ is that it faces much the same dilemma that the Pontiac Fiero faced when it was introduced. People thought that it was to be a sports car (with sports car-like performance). The initial Fiero was anything but a performance car. Same for the CRZ. In spirit, it really doesn’t evoke the same personality that the CRX did. It doesn’t offer exceptional handling, has adequate (but not stellar) fuel economy and does not hold a price-point advantage. There is style (that some love, others not so much), but that’s about it. Some early adopters will rush out to buy them, but it most likely will not enjoy the sales success that the CRX did (much less the devoted fan base that the CRX still enjoys to this day).

    • 0 avatar

      The CR-X wasn’t fast, but it also wasn’t expensive like the CR-Z. The CR-Z costs over 20 grand. Also, it weighs more than a Fit.

      It’s selling well initially because of the fresh styling. Remember how well the Solstice sold at the outset?

  • avatar

    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.

    • 0 avatar

      I don’t think that car prices have tripled since ’87. We know that it will cost more than 20 grand. Honda North America has said that it will slot, price wise, above the Insight. In Japan, the CR-Z costs the same as the Civic Hybrid.

      The Civic Si offers way more performance and fun for the same price or less than the CR-Z will cost. This was not the case with the CR-X.

    • 0 avatar

      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?

  • avatar

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

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    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.

    • 0 avatar

      @ 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.

  • avatar
    John R

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

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