It's Going To Take Forever For Dealers To Sell Remaining Honda CR-Zs

Timothy Cain
by Timothy Cain

We’re as certain as can be that the Honda CR-Z is dead. Defunct. Discontinued. Done for. Any other applicable d word you can think of.

Not only was the CR-Z long since discontinued in Europe and Australia, Honda is now offering a Final Label edition of the CR-Z in Japan, the company’s home market and the location of CR-Z assembly. Moreover, American Honda’s PR department already indicated to TTAC that they thought everybody knew the CR-Z was deceased, down the drain, discarded.

Dead, yes. But not yet departed. Honda’s U.S. dealers have plenty of CR-Z inventory. Don’t all storm the gates at once now. Tamp down that excitement. Let’s all remain calm.

Automotive News says that on June 1, 2016, there were an estimated 2,000 two-seat, hybrid CR-Zs in Honda’s U.S. inventory. AutoTrader’s inventory shows nearly 1,400 new CR-Zs at U.S. dealers; Cars.com has more than 1,500.

For a vehicle nameplate such as the Honda Civic, that wouldn’t be enough cars to get dealers through three days. American Honda averages roughly 32,000 Civic sales per month.

On the other hand, American Honda hasn’t quite sold 33,000 CR-Zs since the model’s late-2010 inception. The lion’s share of those sales occurred by the end of 2011, after which sales plunged by nearly two-thirds in 2012. By 2015, U.S. sales of the CR-Z were 73 percent lower than they were in 2011.

Not that the CR-Z was a particularly successful car in 2011. While Honda reported more than 10,000 sales of the CR-Z in the model’s first month on sale in Japan – presumably the result of a build-up in demand – the CR-Z was averaging fewer than 1,000 U.S. sales per month by the time the Hyundai Veloster arrived near the end of the year. The more spacious four-seat Veloster, sans hybrid but not that much less efficient than the CR-Z, produced more than 2,800 monthly sales during its launch in the fourth-quarter of 2011. Nearly 140,000 Velosters have been sold in the U.S. since the Hyundai’s arrival.

If Honda was still selling the CR-Z in 2011-like numbers, you’d be hard pressed to find one on a dealer’s lot just a couple of months from now (assuming no further CR-Z imports). But the CR-Z’s U.S. decline was so rapid, and the drop-off in demand so severe, that dealers will be left searching for customers for many months.

With 2,000 units in stock, Honda stores have a seven-month supply. Over the first five months of 2016, American Honda reported fewer than 200 CR-Z sales per month, on average. February’s result, only 128 sold, was the model’s worst month ever, down 93 percent from the CR-Z’s 1,819-unit record in April 2011. March was the CR-Z’s second-worst month ever. Year-over-year, U.S. Honda CR-Z sales in 2016’s first five months are down 11 percent.

Historically speaking, Honda isn’t terribly keen on providing the incentives required to quickly clear out discontinued product. The first-generation Honda Ridgeline, for example, ended production at the midway point of 2014, but dealers were still clearing out the last few copies of that truck early this year. The Honda Insight’s formal obituary was written two years ago, but American Honda still reports a handful of Insight sales every month.

With that in mind, don’t expect to find a 2016 CR-Z collecting dust behind your local Honda dealer with balloons attached to its wing mirrors, a gorilla on the roof, and a 50% Off placard on its hood. Granted, the evidence suggests you still probably wouldn’t be all that interested anyway.

[Image: Honda]

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures. Follow on Twitter @goodcarbadcar and on Facebook.

Timothy Cain
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  • APaGttH APaGttH on Jun 15, 2016

    What are you digging for dad, more lost E.T. cartridges? No son. Rumor has it that Honda buried the last 237 unsold CR-Zs in this landfill in 2019.

  • Fred0804 Fred0804 on Jun 19, 2016

    A major problem with these that has not been mentioned is the ac will not function when the car is at a red light or stop sign or stuck in traffic. Could never live with that in the south!

    • Letstakeawalk Letstakeawalk on Jun 20, 2016

      That simply isn't true. The CR-Z climate control still operates when the car is stopped, and will override stop-start if needed to maintain the desired temps.

  • Lorenzo The unspoken killer is that batteries can't be repaired after a fender-bender and the cars are totaled by insurance companies. Very quickly, insurance premiums will be bigger than the the monthly payment, killing all sales. People will be snapping up all the clunkers Tim Healey can find.
  • Lorenzo Massachusetts - with the start/finish line at the tip of Cape Cod.
  • RHD Welcome to TTAH/K, also known as TTAUC (The truth about used cars). There is a hell of a lot of interesting auto news that does not make it to this website.
  • Jkross22 EV makers are hosed. How much bigger is the EV market right now than it already is? Tesla is holding all the cards... existing customer base, no dealers to contend with, largest EV fleet and the only one with a reliable (although more crowded) charging network when you're on the road. They're also the most agile with pricing. I have no idea what BMW, Audi, H/K and Merc are thinking and their sales reflect that. Tesla isn't for me, but I see the appeal. They are the EV for people who really just want a Tesla, which is most EV customers. Rivian and Polestar and Lucid are all in trouble. They'll likely have to be acquired to survive. They probably know it too.
  • Lorenzo The Renaissance Center was spearheaded by Henry Ford II to revitalize the Detroit waterfront. The round towers were a huge mistake, with inefficient floorplans. The space is largely unusable, and rental agents were having trouble renting it out.GM didn't know that, or do research, when they bought it. They just wanted to steal thunder from Ford by making it their new headquarters. Since they now own it, GM will need to tear down the "silver silos" as un-rentable, and take a financial bath.Somewhere, the ghost of Alfred P. Sloan is weeping.
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