By on August 31, 2015

honda-s660-26-1

Honda won’t import its tiny S660 convertible to the United States because we are a nation of giant people who drive giant cars, Automotive News is reporting.

John Mendel, executive vice president for Honda, said three weeks ago that the S660 could bring some “spice” to the American Honda lineup, but apparently he looked at a nearby parking lot and changed his mind.

“When the practicalities of the market come in, and the car only so big, that might not be the best car for the U.S. market,” Mendel told Automotive News. “It might be better for India or China or somewhere else.”

Mendel said the “baby NSX” rendering that came out was a “design study” from their R&D labs in California, but stopped short of saying anything further about that car.

According to the report, the long-awaited Civic Type R should arrive in North America next year, which means we won’t have to make do with the Civic Si and exciting redesigned CR-Z as the fastest Hondas money can buy much longer.

Honda is expected to reveal its next-generation Civic at the Frankfurt Auto Show in September.

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62 Comments on “Honda Won’t Sell Tiny S660 in America, Because of Course Not...”


  • avatar
    Chicago Dude

    I don’t think you can blame it on the median American girth so much as American Hondas market strategy of a small number of high-volume vehicles, each with a small number of high-volume configurations.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

      Couldnt agree more. Honda used to take chances like this and was celebrated for it. I still find Z600 Coupes for sale all across the country, the most/best originals usually in the West of course. With the tiny market it had, the fact that you can still find them all these years later, given how fragile and rust prone they were, its amazing. The S660 would easily have double the following and appeal that the Z600 did.

      I, as you mightve guessed, figure its worth the trouble to federalize ir, if only as a pure marketing excersize, to extend the Honda name and reputation as a builder of more than just great washing machines.

      If Diamler can sell the Smart here, if struggle-is-my-middle-name Mazda can make a nearly extinct car type (small 4 cyl RWD roadster) and turn it into a staple of the brand, Honda could sure as hell find enough people wanting something unique and quirky to eeke out a profit with this. No, it wont pay bills like the Oddyssy does, but its worth more in the long run.

      • 0 avatar
        Tosh

        Maybe you should ask Daimler how well the Smart sold here?

        • 0 avatar
          racer-esq.

          This does make me even more interested in the 2016 Smart.

          Now that it has more power, a wider track and a proper 5-speed manual it might be a contender.

          Regardless of the image it is a rear wheel drive, mid-engine manual transmission (Daimler has confirmed it will be offered in the US) car for under $15k.

      • 0 avatar
        robc123

        The problem is they are shooting themselves in the foot. Remember who Honda was going to buy this in the first place? young people, but the majority was over 40 yr. old buyers.

        Product marketing 101, know your customer. THEY don’t know anything about their customers. SO why would they think they know about USA customers?
        This is always a niche car. big, fat mall shopping, fast food eating, suburb living 50,000 miles a year driving ‘mericans will never buy a sports car. This BS about need hiway speeds and 10,000 mile range is crap- go rent a lux. car for road trips, save the Honda for fun stuff or boring stuff around town- how much trunk space do you need? golf clubs? grocery- I had a MGB for years as a second, never complained about space. never.

        What real companies, do is:

        -set up a website, give it pics & specs, with a video
        -set up a reservation website with a 10% deposit needed
        -don’t bother with prelim safety DOT specs yet.
        -make it exclusive

        IF you don’t hit the presales needed refund the deposits.

        WOW make me CEO of the year.

  • avatar
    thornmark

    Looks like it would be a good car for Hawaii or the Caribbean.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    “because we are a nation of giant people who drive giant cars”

    I am strongly in favor of the second part of this statement. The first part is also true but not desirable.

    Don’t force small cars on meh!

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    “It might be better for India or China or somewhere else.”

    Translation: People in these countries drive tiny deathtraps more regularly, and their families will not sue us if they die because their legal system does not support such action.

    • 0 avatar
      RideHeight

      Heh… “Stay in own rane, Jo’n. WE handerr gaijin shyuugah coatin-gu.”

    • 0 avatar
      S1L1SC

      Translation: People in other countries don’t have a need to compensate for their shortcomings by buying the biggest vehicle they can find…

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        I don’t think so. The Indians like a sedan style, for example. So the companies make the largest one possible to fit into their lowest tax class bracket.

        Have you seen the things wealthy Indians, for example, purchase? They’re not small.

        You buy a lil tiny car because it’s all you can afford in these situations. As I understand it, other nations have more punitive taxation on larger cars (Japan especially) hence the Kei. That’s what people can afford.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    BTW, just make a Civic convertible already. That’s the logical American iteration of this thing, and women and college women would buy them.

  • avatar

    As someone who has been in and around that car (5’9″ and athletic build) when I visited HGT (Honda Tech Center – Japan), sitting in that car was not comfortable (read: CRAMPED). Everything about that car is smaller than a Miata in a nontrivial way.. The cockpit size is probably reason 1A why its not practical to bring over tot he US over reason 1B (we drive big cars).

    It would be a total bad-ass city car though…

  • avatar
    sirwired

    Did anybody not daydreaming seriously think a “kei” car was ever going to be sold in the US? We simply do not have the same restrictions the Japanese have on car size, so such a car makes little sense. A larger vehicle based on an already-homologated platform makes a lot more sense.

    And, like all reasonably-priced roadsters, they need to answer the “Why not just get a Miata”? question.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      Yep, Del Sol v.2.

      • 0 avatar
        Lynchenstein

        or S2001

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

        The Del Sol wasnt all bad. A worthy successor to the CRX? No. As a variant of a new CRX, however, I think it wouldve been a lot more respected.

        Ive driven them, theyre fun for what they are, certainly preferable to a Metro convertable or a J body drop top. Lacked a rear seat, yes, but the one in the others was worthless except for storing luggage or groceries. And it was that much cooler for being a two seater. The Si I drove wasnt quick but it was fun to drive otherwise. Besides, what else are you going to make a Honda ElCamino out of?

    • 0 avatar
      Demetri

      The Mitsubishi iMiev is a kei car that is sold here; they just modified the body a bit to meet US regs. The idea was to do something similar with the S660 and throw a bigger engine in there to boot. The advantage over the Miata would be price; in theory this would sell for several thousand dollars less. The problem with the S660 though is the soft top. You have to get out of the car to take it off and store it in the trunk and it takes several minutes to do. I don’t think there has ever been a convertible with a complicated manual top that has sold well.

      • 0 avatar

        When you say, “sold here” you mean… figuratively or literally?

      • 0 avatar
        sirwired

        I’m pretty sure that the iMiev isn’t an example of anything other than it being theoretically possible to homologate a kei car for the US market. It certainly hasn’t made any money.

        • 0 avatar
          JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

          Youve got to be kidding, comparing the sales of the hidious, unpronouncable, limited market (meaning powertrain, as in the S660 would be desirable to those wanting a traditional gas-powered vehicle) iMiev to the appeal of a sharp little RWD roadster. His point was that there is a kei car modified and sold here, so its not out of the question. I seriously doubt he meant they are similar beyond their small size, and one could expect similar sales as a result. Its like youre saying the Prius and Miata are both small cars so they only appeal to the same slice of the market.

        • 0 avatar
          Demetri

          I’m just saying that it’s possible to meet US safety regs with a kei class car. Smart and iQ are about the same size. Obviously none of them have sold well, but I think a roadster in that size class could fare much better if the price is right. The other cars mentioned end up competing with much larger cars for the same price, meanwhile a roadster wouldn’t have any competition besides the MX-5, which would potentially cost significantly more.

      • 0 avatar
        SoCalMikester

        aside from every jeep convertible

    • 0 avatar

      I don’t think there is a restriction on big cars in Japan (outside of cost of ownership). There are a number of big cars in Japan – They have the same full size sedans, big minivans, and SUVs that we do. Certainly not in the same quantities as in the US. In the other direction, the Japanese market certainty supports the smaller kei cars, no problem. The Buses that are part of their public transportation system are just as big as ours. The car size distribution is far closer to the US then say. The Netherlands and Germany (based on my exp).

      The only segment really missing in Japan is the full size pickup truck (F150s and the like).

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

        But imported F-150s are avalible and go for a hefty sum. Raptors? Sheesh. Ive only seen one for sale (and it was gone a week later when I checked), like similar price a house and a chunk of land in some parts of the US.

        As you say, the only thing *really* keeping kei drivers out of bigger cars is the heavy registration fees, taxes, cost of fuel, etc. Money, in other words. Another big factor (actually two) is parking and the fact that they simply dont have the room and the big open highways we have. Kei drivers probably spend 95% of their driving time in the city/town. Keis make perfect sense when you consider the conditions (limited space, low speeds, etc).

        We only have that problem in select areas, but as I said enough, if its enough to sell the Smart, its enough to sell the S660. Ive seen people in the back woods of Mississippi driving a Smart, tell me there isnt some who’d go for a car 1000% better, cooler, more fun, etc.

        • 0 avatar
          Steve65

          I believe one of the other sales incentives for kei class cars is that you can buy/register one without having to prove that you’ve got a place to park it.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            I recall hearing that as well. Since parking is so limited everywhere.

            Well if they keep not having children, they won’t have to worry about that bit for too long!

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        The tax system has given breaks to kei cars and slapped more taxes on anything with an engine over 2.0 liters. It’s not a coincidence that Japanese 2.0 liters are slightly less than 2000 cc’s.

  • avatar
    LS1Fan

    I am amazed anyone in Honda would think selling a car that small to a nation where almost 70% of the population is either obese or overweight is a good idea.

    • 0 avatar
      RideHeight

      My latest theory is that obesity is how First World nations do Plague.

      Once the costs for all these spherical kids really hit, it’ll be just as societally catastrophic as anything spread by rats.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        Geeze you’re right. Insurers will need to adjust their mortality tables for a steeper slope earlier on. Obesity complications like heart disease and diabetes will be increasing concerns then.

        Result – healthcare costs shoot up even higher than they are already, and the thin minority is punished for the fat and gluttonous majority.

        This makes me think we need to head towards less “body acceptance,” as cruel as that sounds. For the good of the nation’s healthcare. Countries in Asia don’t have this obesity problem, because people exercise and use self-control, and are also shamed into oblivion by their friends and family members if they’re fat.

        • 0 avatar
          RideHeight

          “Countries in Asia don’t have this obesity problem…”

          The richer they get, the more they do. China in particular has famously had a steep increase in good old ‘Murican-style cardiac disease since the ’80s.

          My cardiologist is a hilarious Chinese guy who for all his medical smarts still talks like Charlie Chan:

          “Yeah, people back home dropping like flies but I make more money here!”

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            How can we re-integrate some self-restraint into an established, wealthy and extremely “don’t discriminate PC World” society?!

            If you show a thin model, you’re shaming fat girls who don’t look that way. And they’ll eat a cookie and tell you not to make them feel bad.

          • 0 avatar
            qfrog

            LOL

          • 0 avatar
            RideHeight

            I’m not seeing a lot of LOL here. What I’m seeing every working day is numerous smart, likeable young people committing slow suicide right in front of me.

          • 0 avatar
            MRF 95 T-Bird

            No shock that there would be an increase in obesity rates. In recent years the Asian nations have been inundated with the American fast food chains as well as foods with high-fructose corn syrup.

    • 0 avatar
      qfrog

      “Honda the power of dreams”

      Perhaps Honda was dreaming along the lines of Nintendo’s Wii fit games.

  • avatar
    TR4

    Aside from engine displacement it’s comparable in size to a Spridget.

  • avatar
    ktm

    A recent study has shown that the average white american male weighs 195 lbs, is 5′-9″ tall and has a waist size of 39 inches; the average white american female weighs 166 lbs, is 5′-6″ tall and has a waist size of 38 inches.

    The poor S660 just cannot accommodate us…….

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      Those figures are always very sad. 5’9 and nearly 200!? The pants size would be like a 39×28.

      • 0 avatar
        NoGoYo

        I wish I was 5’9″ and 195…

      • 0 avatar
        gtemnykh

        Holy hell, scary to see the actual hard numbers. As soon as I landed in Novosibirsk, just walking around I was euphoric at the site of healthy people walking down the street. Lots of young moms pushing strollers, pensioners, grown men, etc. Sure there were a few “overweight” people of the traditional type (women over 60 mostly), but absolutely none of the totally obese, diabetic-cankled eye sores that pollute the landscape in the US. The flip side is that every single guy over 18 smokes like a chimney over there. So you win some you lose some I guess. Oh and every woman leaves the house looking (or atleast making an effort to look) like a million bucks. No sweat pants and PJs in public. Men are given a wider allowance, with track suits making up about 50% of wardrobes. I made sure to bring mine to better blend in with the locals.

        More on the topic of the article, Siberia is chock full of funky imported RHD Japanese cars. Most folks prefer C-class sized sedans and wagons (Toyota making up about 75% followed by Nissan), or Toyota SUVs, or Toyota HiAce/TownAce vans, but there are more than a few kei cars.

    • 0 avatar
      ktm

      I am slightly taller than the average height, but when I travel to downtown Houston I feel like a Lilliputian. There are some tall SOBs there.

      • 0 avatar
        RideHeight

        God, this! And the most surprising dwarfing I’ve ever felt was standing in line at Delta near what I learned was a Scottish men’s *curling* team.

        About 8 men between late-20s and 60, shortest one was maybe 6′-5″.

        The hell?

    • 0 avatar
      runs_on_h8raide

      I’m on the wrong side of 40, average height and a 33in waist, but I weigh 155 with careful diet and regular exercise. So age is not an excuse to get fat either. The problem with people is they are lazy and quite stupid.

      I do crossfit and its astounding what 1 hour of exercise on a consistent basis will do for you. I can keep up with most of the 20 year olds at my box. Most Americans would rather veg in front of a tv. I see a lot of kids these days that are obese as well. Its an unreported epidemic in ‘Murica. They should be rounded up and forced into labor camps, imo.

      • 0 avatar
        Drzhivago138

        TV? What is this, 1995? Get with the program, man, it’s all Netflix/streaming VOD now.

        From a rural perspective, obesity is precipitated by the fact that most 6’4″ farm/manual labor types feel it’s their God-given right to eat large amounts of cheap, low-quality calories like they were 17, and rural areas are essentially “food deserts” (though this is slowly righting itself). Women are expected to keep their figures for at least a few years after marriage, but after the first child, all bets are off.

    • 0 avatar
      Drzhivago138

      Geez, and right now I feel chubby at 5’8″/150/30″.

    • 0 avatar
      VolandoBajo

      Yo, with all those depressing average size figures, that is one more reason I don’t do average.

      I am 5’9″, weigh 165, and have a waist size just slightly north of 30 inches. My wife (“with whom I am well acquainted”, a Jon Lovitz line), is over six feet tall barefoot, doesn’t discuss her weight, but in so-called middle age is still drop dead thin and gorgeous. Still has an hour glass figure, and looks at least ten years younger than her real age, as do all the women in her family, apparently. I think, no, I KNOW, I hit the lottery. Picture Joe Pesci with a Las Vegas showgirl with a genius IQ…that’s what our family portraits resemble.

      I doubt that even at my size I would like or fit into one of those “bumper cars”. I didn’t even enjoy driving a Corolla, not a bit. I have since switched to a Panther…a 97 Grand Marquis that to this “old geezer” is a “real car”.

      And while my wife wouldn’t be too rotund to fit on one of those dinky cars, I suspect her height would be an issue. Though she does enjoy driving her Corolla, and feels that the Panther is too “boat-like”.

      De gustibus, non disputandam. Though fortunately, I would rather drive the Mercury than ride in the Corolla, and she would rather ride in the Panther, than to drive her own Corolla. So family outings are no problem, except for when she points out the difference in gallons for a trip of fifty miles or more.

      Honda probably wouldn’t sell enough of those cars to even cover the cost of NHTSA crash testing.

  • avatar
    Nick

    Judging by the number of microcars in Toronto (shitty ones like the Smart and the iQ) I think they might have misjudged the market. There are plent of slight to average people that love to drive small cars. Hell, I still see Civic Del Sols around.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    I still would like Toyota to do a new version of the MR2. Even if it was hybrid.

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