Wraptivo Type F Honda CR-Z
The launch of Honda's latest hybrid is turning into a challenging one. Not only did the vehicle debut during August, a particularly difficult month for the industry as a whole, but it also represents a frustrating proposition for its two key potential target audiences: The 2011 Honda CR-Z is battling perceptions that it isn't fuel efficient enough for the hybrid crowd and it isn't sporty enough for the enthusiasts. An important link in reaching the latter group will be forged in November when at least one 2011 Honda CR-Z will get the full treatment at this year's Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) show in Las Vegas.
The annual SEMA trade show is one of the world's premier exhibitions of specialty automotive products with all of the major automakers and aftermarket companies, along with some 100,000 show-goers, attending each year. Needless to say, it's an ideal showcase for new products looking to boost their performance cred, and that's an important goal for the Honda CR-Z Type F from Wraptivo.
True, that company is hoping to sell some of its custom vinyl car wraps as well, but note that the car itself will be hosted at Honda's own SEMA booth, and you can be sure Honda execs will be closely checking out the audience's reaction to both the vehicle and its many modifications.
Speaking of which, these are expected to include an extensive design package (with plenty of aero upgrades) that was created to "give this concept a special uniqueness, yet with a familiarity that is still unmistakably Honda." More important for drivers will be a slew of "go fast" enhancements like Recaro seats, a supercharger, a suspension package, a retuned ECU, an upgraded exhaust system and the proverbial much, much more.
And while there's no word on how these changes will impact the car's EPA numbers, they could have a huge influence on customer acceptance of the production CR-Z. Honda only sold 694 CR-Z's in August, a month during which many hybrids experienced big-time sales drops. For example, the Honda Insight saw sales slip 50 percent last month, while the Toyota Prius was down by 35 percent as compared to August 2009. Some of this is surely a result of being compared to last August's Clunker-driven numbers, but it's also worth pointing out that these vehicles are underperforming the market on a calendar-year-to-date basis; the Insight has only gained 1.2 percent more customers through this August than during the same period last year, while the Prius has fallen off by 1.5 percent.
I'm thinking a revved-up CR-Z may be just the thing to rev up CR-Z sales.