Honda Motor Co.'s sporty CR-Z model was successfully launched last Thursday in the Roppongi Hills district of Tokyo. The CR-Z is Honda's second low-cost hybrid car that it had launched that's aimed at complying with stricter environmental regulations as well as be able to meet expanding sales globally.
Unlike Toyota Motor Corp., Honda has chosen a one-motor structure for its gasoline-electric cars. Honda's rivals are using two motors to get greater mileage.
This car will arrive at showrooms in North America and Europe as early as this summer. Already, Honda had received 4,500 pre-sale orders in Japan, which is 4.5 times its monthly sales target.
Honda targets annual sales of 40,000-50,000 units worldwide. The launch of the two-door CR-Z comes after the Insight hybrid introduced a year ago, with sales starting in Japan on Friday at 2.27 million yen ($25,340).
The fiercest rival of the Insight model is Toyota's latest Prius. Incidentally, Honda's Insight model has failed to arrive at its original global sales target of 200,000 in the first year of sales.
At the end of January, cumulative sales totaled 136,000 units. It should be noted however, that the car was rolled out outside Japan in stages from March. Analysts said that Toyota had cut the price on the Prius and lost out on getting higher profits.
Meanwhile, Honda's margins on the CR-Z are said to be better than on the Insight. Executive Vice President Koichi Kondo said that when the Insight was launched, it was determined that its profitability was better than the Fit (subcompact).