Honda to kill boxy Element amid falling sales
The vehicle will be dropped after the 2011 model year, Honda said in a statement today. The decision follows an extended model cycle, during which Honda product planners wrestled with how to replace the vehicle.
The Element, based on the CR-V crossover, went on sale in late 2002. It carried such features as washable floors and neoprene seats intended to appeal to buyers with active, outdoor lifestyles. The Element soon became popular with active, empty-nest Baby Boomers and retirees, whose average age wasn't far from the rest of the Honda lineup.
Annual U.S. sales peaked at 67,478 in 2003, the Element's first full year on the market, then hovered in the mid-50,000 range through 2006. Last year they dropped to 14,884, and this year's volume through November is down 4 percent in a U.S. market that's up 11 percent.
A “dog friendly” version, with grippy, bone-patterned floor mats and a cargo area set up for a dog carrier, was released for the 2010 model year.
"The Element proved that ultimate functionality can often come from thinking inside the box," John Mendel, American Honda executive vice president, said in the statement. "It made boxy vehicle designs cool, and Element owners continue to enjoy its unique styling and unmatched versatility."
The cancellation leaves the door open for other derivatives built off the CR-V. The CR-V is slated for a redesign next summer. Honda executives have said the automaker enjoys the flexibility of the CR-V platform and what it can provide in terms of spinoffs.
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