Even though sales of Honda’s Element have been disappointing, Japan’s No. 2 automaker plans to launch a new generation rather than throw in the towel on its quirky crossover.
According to American Honda Motor Company president, John Mendel, the Element reaches a key demographic that has not embraced the CR-V. In a recent interview Mendel said, “Our specialty vehicles give a little spice to the brand. The CR-V and Element share the same platform and Mendel contends, It’s all about platform usability. And the Element is part of that strategy.”
Mendel says that, according to internal data compiled by Honda, consumers aren’t cross-shopping the Element and CRV. He said, “In the showroom you couldn’t get most Element buyers to even sit in a CR-V.
Consumers who buy the boxy Element are drawn to the vehicle’s flexibility and generous storage capacity which will accommodate plenty of camping gear, ski equipment or even mountain bikes or surfboards. There’s even a dog-friendly version of the Element that makes it easier than ever to bring Fido along on your outdoor adventure. The Dog Friendly package allows owners to safely confine their canine companions in a specially fitted cargo compartment that features a spill-resistant water dish and folding entry ramp that allows your pet to enter or exit the vehicle without jumping.
The CR-V, says Mendel, is designed to address the needs of active young families.
Honda now plans to design a new version of the Element on the CR-V platform. Mendel declined to say when the new design will appear in dealer showrooms, how closely it will resemble the current vehicle or whether it will carry on the Element name.
Aside from minor modifications to the exterior, the Element has remained largely unchanged since its introduction in 2003.
Honda had initially projected annual sales to reach 75,000 units but has consistently failed to reach that target. In 2003, Honda sold 67,478 units and has not broken the 60,000 unit mark in any year since. Last year the automaker only sold 26,447 Elements and sales for this year were down by 46% through November to 13,458 units.
The Element has an MSRP of $20,525 to $24,320 and delivers an EPA estimated fuel economy of 19 mpg city / 24 mpg highway.
As sales of the Element have continued in a downward trajectory, the CR-V has become the top selling vehicle in the segment. In 2007 Honda sold 220,000 CR-Vs.