September 2014 Sales: Honda CR-Z Takes Another Dive

Timothy Cain
by Timothy Cain

September 2014 was American Honda’s lowest-volume CR-Z sales month since December 2012.

248 CR-Zs were sold last month even as Honda dealers sat on sufficient inventory, at least by the standard of the CR-Z’s low desirability quotient, to sell more. According to Automotive News, Honda had a 79-day supply of CR-Zs at the beginning of the month, and of the 963 new CR-Zs Cars.com is currently showing in its database, the vast majority were in stock during the month of September.

Through the first eight months of 2014, Honda was selling 337 CR-Zs per month. Honda sold 4550 CR-Zs in 2013, equal to 379 per month. Monthly volume peaked at 1819 units in April 2011. After 5249 CR-Zs were sold in the final five months of 2010, annual sales reached 11,330 units in 2011 and then plunged to 63% to 4192 units in 2012. 2013’s recovery, at less than 9%, was moderate.

We’ve known for years that the CR-Z was not a CRX successor, but success could theoretically still have been located in some dark corner of the American car market if consumers had been convinced that the CR-Z represented something no other automaker offers. It’s an efficient two-seater with oddball styling, a desirable Honda badge, and some joy in its chassis.

Unfortunately, the CR-Z isn’t really all that efficient, with EPA numbers of less than 40 mpg on the highway. Manual-transmission CR-Zs are rated at just 31 mpg in the city.

In its record-setting month of April 2011, the CR-Z accounted for 2.6% of Honda passenger car sales, a figure which fell to 0.4% in September 2014, when sales were 86% down from that peak performance. Year-over-year, September sales were down 6%, a decline of 16 units as the overall auto industry grew 9%, as Honda brand passenger car sales jumped 17%, as Honda sold 1095 Accord Hybrids.

As for CR-Z alternatives, it’s difficult to know where to start, as there are no absolutely direct rivals. Fiat 500 sales jumped 29% to 2737 units in September. The Hyundai Veloster was up 22% to 2777 sales. Mini’s five-pronged Cooper range was down 42% to 2116 units. Scion tC sales fell 15% to 1404. Total Volkswagen Beetle volume was down 49% to 1821 units.

As for cars which sold in CR-Z-like numbers last month, that list includes the Porsche Boxster (275), Hyundai Equus (261), Jaguar XF (258), Porsche Cayman (245), the Nissan Cube (238), and Honda’s own Insight (240).

Ah yes, the Insight. We’ve already discussed its demise. As much as the CR-Z wasn’t as well executed as enthusiasts would have wanted, we can hope that Honda won’t force us to write a CR-Z eulogy any time soon. We can hope Honda will give it another shot, not with a supercharger, but with a completely new approach. There’s no need for Honda to give up. We’ve had about enough of the giving up with the dead and gone CRX, Integra, RSX, and Prelude.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures.

Timothy Cain
Timothy Cain

More by Timothy Cain

Comments
Join the conversation
2 of 86 comments
  • Dartdude Having the queen of nothing as the head of Dodge is a recipe for disaster. She hasn't done anything with Chrysler for 4 years, May as well fold up Chrysler and Dodge.
  • Pau65792686 I think there is a need for more sedans. Some people would rather drive a car over SUV’s or CUV’s. If Honda and Toyota can do it why not American brands. We need more affordable sedans.
  • Tassos Obsolete relic is NOT a used car.It might have attracted some buyers in ITS DAY, 1985, 40 years ago, but NOT today, unless you are a damned fool.
  • Stan Reither Jr. Part throttle efficiency was mentioned earlier in a postThis type of reciprocating engine opens the door to achieve(slightly) variable stroke which would provide variable mechanical compression ratio adjustments for high vacuum (light load) or boost(power) conditions IMO
  • Joe65688619 Keep in mind some of these suppliers are not just supplying parts, but assembled components (easy example is transmissions). But there are far more, and the more they are electronically connected and integrated with rest of the platform the more complex to design, engineer, and manufacture. Most contract manufacturers don't make a lot of money in the design and engineering space because their customers to that. Commodity components can be sourced anywhere, but there are only a handful of contract manufacturers (usually diversified companies that build all kinds of stuff for other brands) can engineer and build the more complex components, especially with electronics. Every single new car I've purchased in the last few years has had some sort of electronic component issue: Infinti (battery drain caused by software bug and poorly grounded wires), Acura (radio hiss, pops, burps, dash and infotainment screens occasionally throw errors and the ignition must be killed to reboot them, voice nav, whether using the car's system or CarPlay can't seem to make up its mind as to which speakers to use and how loud, even using the same app on the same trip - I almost jumped in my seat once), GMC drivetrain EMF causing a whine in the speakers that even when "off" that phased with engine RPM), Nissan (didn't have issues until 120K miles, but occassionally blew fuses for interior components - likely not a manufacturing defect other than a short developed somewhere, but on a high-mileage car that was mechanically sound was too expensive to fix (a lot of trial and error and tracing connections = labor costs). What I suspect will happen is that only the largest commodity suppliers that can really leverage their supply chain will remain, and for the more complex components (think bumper assemblies or the electronics for them supporting all kinds of sensors) will likley consolidate to a handful of manufacturers who may eventually specialize in what they produce. This is part of the reason why seemingly minor crashes cost so much - an auto brand does nst have the parts on hand to replace an integrated sensor , nor the expertice as they never built them, but bought them). And their suppliers, in attempt to cut costs, build them in way that is cheap to manufacture (not necessarily poorly bulit) but difficult to replace without swapping entire assemblies or units).I've love to see an article on repair costs and how those are impacting insurance rates. You almost need gap insurance now because of how quickly cars depreciate yet remain expensive to fix (orders more to originally build, in some cases). No way I would buy a CyberTruck - don't want one, but if I did, this would stop me. And it's not just EVs.
Next