2011 Honda CR-ZEnlarge Photo
One year ago, Honda was ramping up for the roll-out of its 2010 Honda Insight hybrid. The company made big predictions about the Insight, boasting that it would outsell the 2010 Toyota Prius in showrooms around the globe. Sadly for Honda, those dreams didn't come true -- not by a longshot -- but if sales in Japan are any indication, the 2011 Honda CR-Z hybrid could put the company back on the hybrid playing field.
The CR-Z is the hybrid successor to Honda's wildly popular Civic CRX coupe. When the CR-Z launched last month in Japan, Honda had set a conservative goal of moving 1,000 units per month, but the company has already taken orders for 10,000. If sales continue at that pace, the CR-Z will meet its Japanese annual goal of 12,000 units within the next two weeks.
Honda plans to launch the CR-Z in Europe and the U.S. later this year. Chastened by its ill-founded boasts about the Insight and fearful that the CR-Z may be too small for Americans in its two-seater form, Honda has set a cautious goal of 40,000 - 50,000 sales in the CR-Z's first year.
However, we wouldn't be surprised to see sales climb much higher. Demand for the car in Japan is one promising factor. Honda's improved market position thanks to Toyota's recall stumbles is another. And as for its size: Americans have proven that they don't mind smaller cars as long as they're stylish. The Mazda Miata, and the MINI Cooper are good examples of that principle in action -- although slumping sales of the Smart fortwo shows what happens when styling goes off the rails.
For additional details about the CR-Z, check out Bengt Halvorson's overview of the production model from the 2010 Detroit Auto Show. In the meantime, here are a couple of video clips for your amusement: the first CR-Z commercial to run in Japan, and a longer (and slightly more hilarious) promo piece that shows the CR-Z in action.