By on March 15, 2015

2015 Honda Cr-Z rear viewThe Honda CR-Z is selling even worse than it used to. And by used to, we mean worse than it did last year, its worst year ever. And by worst year ever, we really do mean worse than the two absolutely terrible previous years.

U.S. CR-Z volume is down 37% through the first two months of 2015, a drop from 585 sales in January and February 2014 to 371 in the same period one year later. Honda sold 739 CR-Zs in the first one-sixth of 2013, 829 in the same period of 2012, and 1985 in the first two months of 2012.

There appears to be hope on the horizon, according to a source of Car & Driver’s. That hope involves murdering off the current Fit-based CR-Z and replacing it with a slightly enlarged CR-Z based on a shortened Civic platform.

No hybrid, many horsepowers, a proper successor to the CRX. Sounds good.

Honda CR-Z sales chartOne shouldn’t allow themselves to feel that the CR-Z’s ridiculous flop means sport compacts are a fruitless endeavour in the current new vehicle market. While Hyundai Veloster sales are flaming out, the car went on sale nearly four years ago. Moreover, over the last two months, Hyundai USA sold nearly eight Velosters for every CR-Z.

On a higher performance scale, Subaru USA’s WRX/STi pairing are up 44% to 4790 sales over the last two months. The WRX/STi is outselling the surging Audi A3, an entry-level best seller for America’s most steadily growing luxury brand . Volkswagen Golf GTI sales have more than doubled in this relaunch year to 3757 units through the end of February.

2015 Subaru Impreza WRX silverMini, meanwhile, is shaking off the loss of Clubman, Coupe, Roadster, and Paceman sales with its regular Hardtop model. After a dreadful 2014 at the end of its lifecycle, the core Mini is up 259% to 4589 sales so far this year.

Sure, the Beetle is plunging so quickly Volkswagen might finally be thinking of killing it off. In old age, Fiat 500 sales declined in February for the 18th time in 21 months. But more popular models prove that there’s market share to be had, and surely Honda, of all automakers, can learn from their mistakes. More Civic sharing would help defray costs, moderately high performance might bring a youthful image back to the brand, and a second-gen CR-Z might just do what the similarly named CR-V does: dominate its category.

For now, we can look on with embarrassment as Honda reports dreadfully low CR-Z sales figures month after month. Only 175 were sold in February 2015, the third month in the model’s 55-month history – and the third out of the last four – that CR-Z sales have fallen below 200 units in the United States. Honda Canada reported two CR-Z sales in February, or 100% more than the figure achieved in its worst month ever, when one CR-Z was sold in October 2013.

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

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64 Comments on “U.S. Honda CR-Z Sales Are Embarrassing, Total Reboot Rumoured...”


  • avatar
    VW16v

    Local Honda dealers are still trying to get rid of the 2014 CRZ. I have yet to see a new 2015.

  • avatar
    Astigmatism

    It’s all a matter of how you frame the question. 371 sales may be 37% less than the prior year’s comparable period, but it’s approximately 370 sales more than the car deserves.

  • avatar
    JD23

    The CR-Z is a poor replica of a hot hatch and mediocre as a fuel-sipping hybrid; it attempts to capture buyers in both markets, but satisfies neither. This is one case in which the car blog commentariat was correct in proclaiming a model DOA.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      This.

      The quickest way to have saved the CR-Z was to have ditched the hybrid power train for something with more oompf. Profit.

      On the other hand the CR-Z is outselling the Chevrolet SS – so it has that going for it. ;-)

    • 0 avatar

      @JD23
      +1

      I would add that the original Honda Insight, a 2000 lb hybrid which has absolutely terrific handling and exceptionally precise steering (to my complete surprise the only time I drove one) has lately seen a lot of new buyers take out the hybrid system and throw in a Toyota 2 liter. I would be sorely tempted to do that myself if I weren’t worried about safety in such a light (and outdated for safety) car.

  • avatar
    Marone

    I don’t know why this car doesn’t sell but I do know that I don’t see any of them on the road. I see more Rolls Royce’s than I see CR-Z’s. I don’t think it’s the segment. To me it was always the fact that despite the visual looks, it was a low horsepower commuter car that is the update to a Del Sol. I think consumers took more to a Prius or a Civic Hybrid than this car.

    • 0 avatar
      kvndoom

      It doesn’t sell because it answers a question nobody asked. Go back a few years when it was announced. A Civic hatch? A new CR-X? Then Honda said “weak-ass hybrid” and nobody cared anymore. Lack of power killed it, plain and simple.

      Since its inception, the mantra has been “K24 or GTFO.” It looks like it’s finally getting the powertrain boost it needs.

      • 0 avatar
        JD23

        The CR-Z’s styling writes a check that its powertrain cannot cash, with a hot hatch exterior and Prius-like acceleration. Unfortunately, it doesn’t get Prius-like mileage, so it is also a nonentity in the eco market.

    • 0 avatar
      WheelMcCoy

      I’ve seen 1 in the suburbs, and 1 in the metropolitan area of Brooklyn. A Mazda3 would give the same mpg, but be more comfortable, have more room, and be more fun to drive.

      • 0 avatar
        MRF 95 T-Bird

        I’ve seen a few in the NYC area. My local Honda dealer in Queens had a couple of demos or trade-in’s for around 15k. Not a bad deal if you need a commuter car and can forgo the rear seat.

    • 0 avatar
      kmoney

      I’ve never seen one on the streets either. This thing was always a lame duck mostly because of the powertrain, but not helped by the fact that even before it came out it was being slammed for not being anything like the CRX it was supposed to revive. With a real engine, it could have been a sweet competitor to the Veloster, Fiesta and maybe even the Audi A1 and (stretching it) Lexus CT200H.

    • 0 avatar
      MrGreenMan

      Test drive one.

  • avatar
    HerrKaLeun

    Make civic hatch model = increased civiv sales.
    Have that hatch with an Si option = added sportscar sales without much development and tooling cost (and hard to believe that would sell worse than this turd)

    Look at history how that worked for Honda, how it works now for Mazda. And you know you are in trouble if VW has a batter strategy than you (Jetta=Golf, GTi=Golf without 2.slow)

  • avatar
    Stumpaster

    Oh sure, peg it against cars that have rear seats. No one will notice!

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      Yea that is the real biggie here. If a car is going to be impractical it damn sure better make up for it in other ways. Aside from gas mileage/costs I can’t think of one way this thing is better than a Civic Si. It’s not like the BRZ/WRX where you have tradeoffs that make things a net wash… the CR-Z is just not good.

      The Euro Civic is hideous and should not come over. However, I think a 2+2 Civic hatch with the 2.0T, 6MT/8DCT and mechanical LSD will work OK. I think the smartest business move would be for Honda to ditch the small coupe deal entirely and just bring the Civic Si up to snuff with the new 2.0T though.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      The rear seats, or lack thereof, is why I don’t have one. I like small and sportyish, but I do need at least a notional back seat for little kids.

      Honda made the same mistake the GM made with the Hybrid GMT900s: they designed a car for a market that doesn’t exist. If you drew a Venn diagram of sports-compact buyers versus hybrid buyers, you’d have two separate circles on two different pages—possibly in two different books.

      Honda does this because, frankly, Honda is arrogant (GM is, too; so is Volkswagen, for the matter). They have a tendency to think they know better than their customers and, when it works, they pat themselves on the back for their brilliance. When it doesn’t, it’s a litany of reasons why said brilliance isn’t appreciated.

      Hybrids are where this is most evident: Honda’s done just about everything except make a better Prius because, at this point, it’s that they think they know better.

      Toyota, to their credit, doesn’t tend to think this way: they might start out weird, but if anything else they suffer from being fast follower and pay a little too much attention to customer feedback.

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    The CR-Z has been on the top of my list for a hit-em-where-they-ain’t car for a long time now. I first sat in one at the DC Auto Show a few years ago and I really liked its packaging. I’ve since test driven one and I enjoyed how it drove.
    However I would not buy one new, the depreciation on them is Jaguar-like. You can get a used one with low miles for close to $10k.
    I don’t know why they made it a 2 seater. I feel like they could easily toss a seatbelt in the back and make it a 3 seater. Though I am certain that would not actually help the CR-Z’s sales.

    • 0 avatar
      WheelMcCoy

      “I don’t know why they made it a 2 seater.”

      I think in Japan, it did come with rear seating. In the U.S., the rear seats became storage compartments. But as you noted, it wouldn’t have made any difference in sales.

  • avatar
    benders

    I was seriously considering a CR-Z. I don’t need rear seats and I like hatchbacks but the mileage isn’t good enough compared to the Focus/3/Elantra/etc. Also, none of the advanced tech is available on any of the small Hondas yet. If I buy a car, I want it with the latest in radar cruise control, collision avoidance, and blind spot monitoring.

    • 0 avatar
      Sam Hell Jr

      This is the CRZ’s real problem: it just isn’t competitive with small ICE cars, especially the forced induction variants. I like the concept of a “light” hybrid with some pace, and I suspect Toyota in particular will figure out how to leverage its hybrid expertise in that fashion eventually. But for the moment, the CRZ gets beat on dynamics and practicality by any number of highly efficient, more conventional vehicles, and gets positively thrashed on efficiency by a dedicated eco hybrid like the Prius c. Where’s its angle?

      • 0 avatar
        Marko

        The IMA system was a compromise when it came out in the late ’90s, let alone today.

      • 0 avatar
        benders

        I think the CR-Z works ok as a spritely city car in Europe or Japan. Toyota’s biggest obstacle for a fun hybrid is the rubber band CVT their system uses.

        Honda is probably our best hope for a fun to drive hybrid. But they’ll probably stick it in the ugliest, most impractical vehicle they’ve ever designed and insist on putting an Acura badge on it.

  • avatar
    Boff

    Hey, they could always slap a turbo on this hybrid to make a nice tie-in with their successful Formula 1 engine program. Oh, wait…

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    I test-drove one and also found it thoroughly underwhelming. I just wanted to try the last hybrid standing that came with a clutch. I guarantee you’ll never see that again.

  • avatar
    colin42

    I often thought the CRZ in manual was a perfect car for a teen driver.

    2 seats mean they won’t be carrying a load of mates which appears the be a key factor teen accidents. Manual mean none of their friends could drive it. It looks sporty but isn’t and gets good mileage.

  • avatar
    Noble713

    These things are surprisingly common in Okinawa. It’s a shame Honda put one of the sexiest driver-oriented dashes in one of the poorest excuses for a performance car in production today.

    • 0 avatar
      burgersandbeer

      Honda’s interior design is polarizing. My eyes burn just thinking about driving the car at night while looking at pictures of all the blue light coming out of the gauge cluster. The two pods flanking the steering wheel are an interesting idea, but it pushes the radio onto the passenger side of the car, which is ridiculous.

  • avatar
    TW5

    The CR-X was simple, lightweight, and efficient. The CR-Z is complex, relatively-heavy, and relatively-inefficient compared to other hybrids (34mpg combined for 6MT).

    The CR-Z is barely CAFE compliant now, Honda can’t reboot. If the car is hybrid, it will be complex. It won’t sell and it won’t hold resale. If the CR-Z inherits the new 1.5L turbo, it won’t achieve CAFE because the short wheelbase and weight over 2700 lbs. If they extend the wheelbase, it will cannibalize Civic, and the concept will be even more watered-down.

    The new CR-Z (named CR-X hopefully) would have to be built out of CFRP, like the CR-Z concept Honda unveiled at the end of 2013 (maybe not a carbon tub, though). Equip the new 1.5L turbo and let the auto media and enthusiasts swoon. Might not be CAFE compliant, but it won’t ding the ratings as badly as a lukewarm reboot with a 1.5L turbo at 2,700 lbs.

    Unfortunately, I can’t see CFRP happening. It’s too bad because Honda’s complete loss of direction and swagger has been caused by the absurd weight of modern vehicles. Lightweight simplicity is Honda territory, but they are too cowardly to make it happen. They need a new CR-X and Gen 1 Insight, both built extensively with CFRP.

  • avatar
    Lythandra

    Screw the CRZ, bring back the Element!

    • 0 avatar
      IAhawkeye

      I’ve always seriously wanted an Element.. sadly they went away so now by the time I’ll ever have the money to buy one it’ll have to be a well used, high mileage example *sigh*

  • avatar
    Marko

    Only three words can describe the CR-Z: design by committee. I’m not talking about the styling (I actually like the looks), but why not buy a Prius c if seeking a small hybrid, a GTI, WRX, 86, or Ford ST if seeking a sport compact, or a Miata if seeking a fun, impractical two-seater?

    The CR-Z tried to be everything to everyone, and…well, you know.

    • 0 avatar
      otaku

      I would probably be a lot more interested in checking out the Prius C if Toyota offered a three-door version with slightly sportier styling and a more conventional looking instrument panel.

  • avatar

    Comparing it against fellow two-seaters is more rational.

  • avatar
    Crosley

    Why on Earth did they make it a hybrid?

    I love the lines on it, but it’s just too damn expensive. And for what? So I can save $7 a month on my gas?

    Cut the $5,000+ hybrid premium and put a conventional engine and I bet you’ll see a dramatic turnaround in sales.

  • avatar
    Hummer

    I’ve seen quite a few of these, I simply don’t understand the styling, I would describe it as an off-brand washing machine. But as everyone stated this was possibly the biggest flop Honda has had in recent memory ( including the crosstour) I can’t imagine what kind of moron signed off on it. The MPG sucks for something with a Hybrid drivetrain, and from everything I hear it sucks to drive, what’s the market? People that hate their lives and want to make others miserable?

    • 0 avatar
      05lgt

      The Crosstour’s once aggressively ugly looks have mellowed in my eye over time, leaving something that makes a ton of sense to someone who doesn’t quite need a minivan and doesn’t want the minivans compromises. CRZ still answers no ones needs, wants or aspirations. Loosing the big dumb wing was no where enough to save it. As someone mentioned, the only person this car makes sense for is someone other than the buyer. I might get one for a kid, if the Miata didn’t exist. It might make sense used, if the new car buyer takes a huge beating and I get it for next to nothing.

  • avatar

    84 month terms are not ideal but sometimes necessary to help bury negative equity. If purchasing with no trade, I would never recommend going over a 60 month term since you want to be able to pay off that asset parallel to its amortization schedule in black book. Don’t spin your wheels in mud and end up paying more in interest than principal!

  • avatar
    maestromario

    The CR-Z IS embarrassing!

    I don’t think Honda did proper market analysis before building and/or bringing this model to North America. The only thing that goes for it is it’s manual transmission option. Everything else is wrong.

  • avatar
    Krivka

    Automakers are living in an alternative universe where they believe they can produce whatever they want and we will be happy to buy their gruel similar to the Eastern Europe phenomena. The Trabant was once the only game in town, unless you could find a Czechoslovakian Skoda, a Russian Lada, a Polish FSO or a Yugo. They were sold to a captive audience not because they were any good, but because they could be sold and people lined up to buy them. The current market is similar. Replace the socialism of that era with the corporate socialism of this and the end result are cars that are produced NOT because the consumer really wants them, but because they are dumped on the duped. Several examples. The Euro Civic is a quality product. The Civic sold here is not very loved. The CR-Z is a mess and deserves to die. I have owned several Civics. The first one was a 1972. I have driven several Euro Civics, (in Eastern Europe) IMO the current NA Civic is a modern day Yugo. (not really, but is a metaphor of the market) The Beetle the Trabant. If Honda discontinued the NA Civic and sold the Euro Civic they would immediately own that market. If VW put a chopped Beetle body on the Mk 7 MQB platform they would OWN not only the Hot Hatch market, but the roster market as well. The Miata and the Toyobaru twins would be on dealer lots with deep discounts on them. This isn’t rocket science and even a Republican would be able to see how easy this is to solve. Well maybe some Republicans.

    • 0 avatar
      HerrKaLeun

      “The Civic sold here is not very loved”

      sales statistics seem to disagree with you

      • 0 avatar
        Brian P

        Just because lots of people buy them doesn’t mean those people actually love the cars. Lots of people buy Civics (and Corollas) on autopilot because Consumer Reports says they’re reliable.

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      Huh?

      The NA Civic, despite some valid criticism from the press about the staid and soft handling 2012 MY car, continues to be one of the best selling compact cars in the US, full stop.

      How would bringing this ‘forbidden fruit’ Euro Civic help? We’d actually then be losing our current NA car’s independent rear suspension and going to a torsion beam, for one.

      Needless to say, your completely irrelevant political jabs further confirm my suspicion that you have no idea what you are talking about.

  • avatar
    JimC2

    I was really hoping somebody had done one of those Downfall parody videos about Hitler and the CR-Z. (The “Hitler finds out that ______” videos.) There are a few of them that are Honda-related, but none about the CR-Z being a flop. Oh well.

  • avatar

    A shortened Civic piques my interest. Seriously. If they throw a proper rear suspension from an old Civic on the new CR-Z, I’ll give it a very good look come 2017.

  • avatar
    FormerFF

    I wouldn’t put the VW Beetle and most Fiat 500 models in the sport compact group, for the most part they are style coupes and aren’t bought by sport compact buyers. The vast majority of Beetles I see are driven by middle aged women.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      “I wouldn’t put the VW Beetle and most Fiat 500 models in the sport compact group”

      You may have missed the fad where people were transplanting Porsche engines of the day into Beetles and Kombi-vans of the day.

      When I was in HS, one of the favorite projects in Auto Shop was to transplant bigger engines from wrecked vehicles into project vehicles, and make it all work safely.

      One such project I recall was putting a Chevy 283 V8 into a WWII Jeep. Another was to upgrade a VW 1100cc with a 1600cc in a VW minibus.

      One guy went a little further when he replaced the Beetle’s 1100 drive train with a six-cylinder drive train from a wrecked Porsche.

      • 0 avatar
        FormerFF

        That I do recall, my cousins had a Porsche engined dune buggy. I was thinking of the current Beetle.

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          Oh, yeah! I was born and raised in Huntington Beach, CA, and in my time there, 1947-Jun1965, my formative years were spent “hot rodding”.

          The cars of today, as fancy and as computer managed as they are, are not like the Dune Buggies, Souped up rods, or Bucket T’s of my adolescent years.

          The highlight of my summer of ’59 was to make a go-cart out of a couple of planks, wheels, my dad’s old lawnmower engine and two ropes for steering.

          Times have changed.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    The only reason why this was ever on my radar was the “hybrid with a manual” angle.

    Although when was the last time anyone actually saw an ad for the CR-Z? Hard to sell a car no one knows exists.

    • 0 avatar
      WheelMcCoy

      “The only reason why this was ever on my radar was the “hybrid with a manual” angle.”

      Me too. It was a very curious combination, and in this case, Honda deserves some credit for taking chances. It seems like Honda was aiming for “guilt-free” fun, but it didn’t work out that way, at least not in stock form.

      The CR-Z I see in the suburbs has been upgraded with Mugen parts. The owner is definitely having fun.

  • avatar
    tekdemon

    WRX sales must be completely insane because I’m seeing places like Carmax asking for over MSRP for used models. Ridiculous.

  • avatar
    tsoden

    I always loved the look of this car… but I cannot stand the way Honda treats it’s customers up her in the North. First off, Colour choice is abysmal…. As for the CR-Z, you can have it in ANY COLOUR so long as it’s WHITE. WTH???? Go to Honda.ca and check it out if you don’t believe me. In the US, at least you get a broader spectrum of colour choice.

  • avatar
    tlccar

    Last week I went to my local Honda dealer to get the oil changed in my CR-V. I was looking around the showroom and saw a little blue car stuck way in the corner. Would you believe it was a brand new 2013 CR-Z? I actually felt bad for it! It was a nice blue color, and I actually thought it would be a fun summer car, but then I saw that it had no sunroof and was an automatic. Too bad, because I remember how popular the CR-X was in the 80’s. I’m sure the CR-Z is a much better car, just not the right car for our times.

  • avatar
    gtemnykh

    Back in highshcool, there was nothing I wanted more than a 2nd gen (EF platform) CRX Si (I was willing to settle for a Civic Si hatchback or Prelude Si).

    Hearing this gives me great hope, but I know not to get too excited because I know that it’ll never have the clean and simple lines, and gimmick free interior of those older cars.

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      Well you are going to hate me then because in my family we had all of the above. I had the Civic S Hatchback, my brother had the CRX Si, then later I got a Prelude Si.

      What did they all have in common? Good looks, clean simple lines, excellent dashboards and seats. Smart value (affordable), quick, good MPGs, great handling, light, tossable, smooth shifting, etc. etc.

      What does the CR-Z have? None of the above. Complete fail on Honda’s part. The car looks like a robot on the outside, the Starship Enterprise on the inside plus its slow & expensive with huge blind spots.

      Slow sales have nothing to with the lack of rear seats its because the car doesn’t do anything well. Its boring and lame. A turbo version with a simplified look (inside and out) would help. However given the way the Civic Type R looks the robot/spaceship love ain’t over in Honda’s headquarters yet. I want a simple, fun, fast Honda. They don’t sell anything like that.

      My wife currently drives a Volvo C30 which is a modern version of my Civic Hatch. Its ultra simple on the inside (Swedish) and plain sexy on the outside. However it didn’t sell because it was priced like a Volvo… in other words about 25% too much. And the fact the Volvo and hot hatch are not normally in the same sentence. Now a Mini is about the nearest thing you can get to a modern CRX.

  • avatar
    lostjr

    I would also like to see the Element come back. The CR-Z and ZDX lived (for a time) while the Element was killed.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    If they made it look correct, base it on the Civic as mentioned, put no hybrid foolery under the hood, and call it the CR-X II or 2 (With the II/2 in little letters next to the X). And allow a manual in all trims.

    Boom. Fly off shelves.

  • avatar

    In another 5 to 10 years, people will buy CR-Zs on the second-hand market, rip out the hybrid hardware, drop in a worked-over Si engine and finally have themselves something that it should have been in the first place: a light, tossable, yet relatively fuel-efficient machine that doesn’t fall flat on its face in embarrassment.

    Just like the folks who took malaise-era Malibus, ripped out the weezy 229 and dropped in a GM Goodrich 350 in its place, people will go out of their way to set right what’s wrong with a car.

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