Honda hopes new hybrid to repeat Insight success
TOKYO — Honda Motor Co. is hoping to repeat the success of its Insight with another hybrid-only model, the CR-Z. And the Japanese automaker is promising affordable pricing - again.
Honda stunned the industry with the low pricing of its Insight hybrid car, which went on sale in February at 1.89 million yen ($20,000) in Japan, and under $20,000 in the U.S.
The version of the CR-Z that's close to the commercial model going on sale in February will be shown for the first time at the Tokyo Motor Show. The show will be open to media Oct. 21, ahead of its official opening Oct. 23, and run through Nov. 4.
Reporters got a preview of the models Honda will unveil at the show, including the CR-Z, which stands for "compact renaissance zero."
The Insight became a hit, selling more than 65,000 units globally since going on sale in January, mostly in Japan, where ecological tax breaks and cash-for-clunkers programs have boosted hybrid sales.
The arrival of the Insight also helped pressure rival Toyota Motor Corp. to keep the remodeled Prius hybrid, which followed a few months later, at a relatively cheap price, starting at 2.05 million yen ($22,000) in Japan, and $22,000 in the U.S.
Honda appears to have in mind as a rough reference the Prius in setting the CR-Z price. The CR-Z has a 1.5 liter engine and is bigger than the Insight with a 1.3 liter engine, but it's smaller than the 1.8 liter Prius.
"If this costs as much as 2.7 million yen ($30,000), no one is going to take another look at this car," said Takashi Nagura, an engineer for the CR-Z, while declining to give a price.
The model targets empty-nesters, singles and childless couples, rather than families, with its curvaceous sporty design. It also doesn't have much back-seat room.
At the Tokyo Motor Show, Honda is also showing a tiny retro-looking electric vehicle called EV-N.
Designers usually like to give a cube-like shape to an electric vehicle to accentuate it doesn't have a gas engine and doesn't need to look like a typical car.
But Honda purposely gave EV-N a front that looks like it can fit an engine, although all that's there beneath the hood is a trunk.
"We wanted to create a lovable and fun design," said Honda official Yoshiro Tanaka.
Honda is also showing another hybrid at the show - the futuristic-looking six-seater Skydeck, which is still a concept model with no immediate plans for a commercial release.
Link to article here.
Big news about the price quote. Hopefully the engineer is truly hinting at the retail price.