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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Honda take 8,000 CR-Z Hybrid Orders in First 3 Weeks

Honda Motor Co. said today it had received about 8,000 orders for the CR-Z sporty hybrid car in Japan after less than three weeks on the market, or eight times the monthly sales target of 1,000 units.

The two-door compact, which went on sale in Japan on Feb. 26 at a cost 2.27 million yen (roughly $25,340), is the second in a line of low-cost hybrid cars from Japan's No. 2 automaker and is scheduled for launch in North America and Europe this summer.

Honda has said it expects to sell 40,000-50,000 of the CR-Z a year worldwide.

Of the orders received in Japan, 40 percent of customers chose the six-speed manual transmission version in what Honda officials said indicated a popularity among sports car enthusiasts. Nearly 100 percent of cars sold in Japan are automatic.

Honda trails Toyota Motor Corp. by a wide margin in hybrid sales, with the low-cost Insight selling just 3,500 units last month, compared with 27,000 for its rival's flagship Prius.

It should be noted that Honda sold some 18,000 Insight hybrids in that model's first month on the Japanese market about this time last year. That was 3.6 times the 5,000-a-month sales target Honda had set for the model.

But since then, the Insight has not sold as well as Honda had planned, tallying 136,000 sales globally in its first year versus the original goal of 200,000. As a result, Honda set its sales sights lower for the CR-Z.

The CR-Z has been criticized for being a weakling (122 horsepower and just 128 pound-feet of torque) and for so-so fuel economy for a small hybrid (36 miles per gallon city, 38 mpg highway). The 2010 Insight has been EPA rated at 40 mpg city and 43 mpg highway.

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