September 2014 was American Honda’s lowest-volume CR-Z sales month since December 2012.
248 CR-Zs were sold last month even as Honda dealers sat on sufficient inventory, at least by the standard of the CR-Z’s low desirability quotient, to sell more. According to Automotive News, Honda had a 79-day supply of CR-Zs at the beginning of the month, and of the 963 new CR-Zs Cars.com is currently showing in its database, the vast majority were in stock during the month of September.
Through the first eight months of 2014, Honda was selling 337 CR-Zs per month. Honda sold 4550 CR-Zs in 2013, equal to 379 per month. Monthly volume peaked at 1819 units in April 2011. After 5249 CR-Zs were sold in the final five months of 2010, annual sales reached 11,330 units in 2011 and then plunged to 63% to 4192 units in 2012. 2013’s recovery, at less than 9%, was moderate.
We’ve known for years that the CR-Z was not a CRX successor, but success could theoretically still have been located in some dark corner of the American car market if consumers had been convinced that the CR-Z represented something no other automaker offers. It’s an efficient two-seater with oddball styling, a desirable Honda badge, and some joy in its chassis.
Unfortunately, the CR-Z isn’t really all that efficient, with EPA numbers of less than 40 mpg on the highway. Manual-transmission CR-Zs are rated at just 31 mpg in the city.
In its record-setting month of April 2011, the CR-Z accounted for 2.6% of Honda passenger car sales, a figure which fell to 0.4% in September 2014, when sales were 86% down from that peak performance. Year-over-year, September sales were down 6%, a decline of 16 units as the overall auto industry grew 9%, as Honda brand passenger car sales jumped 17%, as Honda sold 1095 Accord Hybrids.
As for CR-Z alternatives, it’s difficult to know where to start, as there are no absolutely direct rivals. Fiat 500 sales jumped 29% to 2737 units in September. The Hyundai Veloster was up 22% to 2777 sales. Mini’s five-pronged Cooper range was down 42% to 2116 units. Scion tC sales fell 15% to 1404. Total Volkswagen Beetle volume was down 49% to 1821 units.
As for cars which sold in CR-Z-like numbers last month, that list includes the Porsche Boxster (275), Hyundai Equus (261), Jaguar XF (258), Porsche Cayman (245), the Nissan Cube (238), and Honda’s own Insight (240).
Ah yes, the Insight. We’ve already discussed its demise. As much as the CR-Z wasn’t as well executed as enthusiasts would have wanted, we can hope that Honda won’t force us to write a CR-Z eulogy any time soon. We can hope Honda will give it another shot, not with a supercharger, but with a completely new approach. There’s no need for Honda to give up. We’ve had about enough of the giving up with the dead and gone CRX, Integra, RSX, and Prelude.