While it’s definitely lacking in international appeal, the Tokyo Motor Show still figures to attract a strong local audience all eager to see the latest vehicles from the Japanese auto giants.
One car that’s expected to be unveiled in Tokyo is the concept version of the
production-ready Honda CR-Z hatchback. It’s not a fancy super car or an electric concept, but the CR-Z is just about as good as were going to see in Tokyo.
The car, which has been widely reported to start production by next year, will come with a 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine that has been tinkered with Honda’s Integrated Motor Assist technology as well as a six-speed manual transmission that takes the driving reins away from the car and back to the driver.
With the relatively thin depth of the Tokyo Motor Show this year, you can expect that a lot more people will be paying attention to what Honda - and all the other Japanese car brands, for that matter - has to offer.
And with the announcement that the CR-Z is coming for the show, you can expect a lot of curious eyes loitering around the Honda booth by then.
The term “electric” comes with an unnecessary stigma of being slow and boring to drive vehicles. However automakers like Fisker and Tesla are creating fun to drive sports cars with green power trains and zero emissions, but the ability to have your cake and eat it too comes at a price. These exotic electric vehicles come at a steep price, but the world’s most popular automaker may have something to say about that by the end of this year.
After seeing the CR-Z sports coupe at the Tokyo Auto Salon, the Japanese automaker Honda’s new CEO, Takanobu Ito, has announced that the hybrid version of the CR-Z sports car will begin to appear in showrooms starting at the end of 2009 and should be everywhere by February 2010.
The new hybrid CR-Z will join Honda’s current lineup of alternatively powered green machines made up by the Insight and Civic Hybrid, a hybrid powered Jazz is set to be unveiled as well in the near future. The Japanese automaker is also working hard on a new hybrid system that they hope to adapt to the larger vehicles in their lineup.
Hybrid vehicles will most definitely be around for as long as we still use internal combustion engines in our cars. With models like the Toyota Prius and Honda Insight selling like crazy automakers are going to capitalize on whatever sales they can generate at this point in time. So in an attempt to diversify the hybrid market, the Japanese automaker Honda is toying around with the idea of a hybrid sports car. The world’s largest producer of engines is hoping that the crowds at the Tokyo Motor Show accept their new CR-ZX this October with open arms.
Based on the Insight, the CR-ZX will be powered by a small displacement four cylinder engine, ranging somewhere from 1.3 to 1.5 liters that is expected to return almost 60 MPG while in a hybrid sports mode. The body features a very stylish large open mouth front bumper and a sleek three door hatch back profile. This future sports hybrid could compete with other green sports cars like the upcoming Volkswagen Blue Sport Roadster and perhaps even a hybrid 370Z. The hybrid Honda may not be quite up to the level of all electric vehicle like the Tesla Roadster, but if there was any automaker who could it’s Honda. We will just have to wait and see what the tuners at Mugen could do with a CR-ZX SiR.
I promise to ease up on the green posts after this one, but fuel efficiency is among the top of most new car buyer’s shopping criteria. So, Top Speed has already announced that Honda plans to produce a road going hybrid version of their CR-Z Concept car that was revealed at the 2007 Tokyo Motor Show. The good news is that this attractive Honda hybrid should make it to the U.S.
The production CR-Z will be powered by a 1.5 Liter gasoline engine connected to either a conventional 6 speed manual transmission or a futuristic CVT. Honda has high hopes for sales in the U.S., 1500 units a month, although Europe remains the single largest market projected to absorb 2500 units per month.
The dreamers at Honda are scheduled to unveil a production prototype of the CR-V Hybrid sometime this year, with a production version to follow in 2010.
The CR-Z is already set to be sporty hybrid vehicle, but now it looks like Honda still wants to get more out of the little guy with a Type R version. There aren’t any real details yet on what will be added or taken away to make the CR-Z Type R, but if Honda goes though with the program, rumors are certain to start before the car appears sometime in 2010.
Nissan is currently working on their hybrid coupe model which comes as a response to the Honda’s CR- Z Hybrid. The hybrid sports car, a front- wheel- drive, will be built on a modified “B” platform and will assure an aggressive coupe design with a wide stance. This kind of looks is very popular in Europe, its primary market.
Nissan is also focusing in keeping the weight at a very low level so they will probably use aluminum body panels. The engine is expected to be a four-cylinder 1.5-liter HR15DE, coupled to an electric motor. The power would get to the front wheels through a six- speed DSG transmission. But for now all this is detail as neither this model nor the Honda’s CR- Z Hybrid won’t be revealed before 2010.
Honda announced additional details regarding its new small hybrid scheduled for introduction in early 2009. An official name and full product details will be announced later this year.
In addition to weight reduction, a significant cost reduction in Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) components will result in the most affordable hybrid vehicle to date. This dedicated hybrid vehicle will be offered as a 5-door hatchback with seating for five passengers and will employ an exterior design concept that evokes the FCX Clarity fuel cell vehicle. Along with the Civic Hybrid, the new vehicle will be produced at an expanded IMA production line at Honda’s Suzuka factory in Japan.
The new small gasoline/electric hybrid vehicle will have expected annual global sales of 200,000 units per year - approximately 100,000 of which are bound for the North American market. Following this launch, Honda also plans to introduce another unique small hybrid vehicle based on the CR-Z sports car first shown at the 2007 Tokyo Motor Show as well as a Fit hybrid model. Including the Civic Hybrid, these four hybrid vehicles are expected to reach combined annual global sales of approximately 500,000 units.
Honda announced that a production version based on the CR-Z Concept unveiled in 2007 at the Tokyo auto show will debut in Europe in late 2009 or early 2010. This will be one of three hybrid models that Honda plans to sell by 2011.
It is likely to be priced at about 25,000 euros, Turner said. " Only the very top versions would come close to 20,000 pounds (28,000 euros)," he added.
The styling of the Tokyo CR-Z concept would be " a highly marketable shape" in Europe, said Turner. " If we could deliver a car that looked like that, it would be a big success whatever power unit we had in it," he added.
Though the production CR-Z is designed specifically for hybrid operation, Honda is considering a conventional gasoline version is there is enough demand, Turner said.
" We see hybrid as a great way of attracting people to the Honda brand who aren’t Honda loyalists," he said. " This could be huge in terms of conquest customers."
Making its North American debut, the CR-Z is a next-generation lightweight sports car concept equipped with Honda’s original gas-electric hybrid system that achieves both clean performance and a high level of torque. The CR-Z stands for "Compact Renaissance Zero" - an expression intended to capture the idea of a renaissance in the design of compact cars that begins anew from fundamentals.