LOS ANGELES -- Although the Element has been a disappointing seller, Honda plans to offer a second generation of its quirky crossover rather than treat it as an experiment.
The company is hitting a key demographic with the Element that it does not reach with the vehicle's platform sibling, the CR-V, said John Mendel, American Honda Motor Co. executive vice president.
"Our specialty vehicles give a little spice to the brand," Mendel said in an interview. "It's all about platform usability. And the Element is part of that strategy."
He said internal data show that no one cross-shops the CR-V and Element. "In the showroom you couldn't get most Element buyers to even sit in a CR-V," Mendel said.
Element buyers like its flexibility and storage capability, which make it ideal for stowing mountain bikes, surfboards and ski equipment, he said. The CR-V is aimed more at young families.
As a result, Honda will derive another outside-the-box vehicle from CR-V underpinnings to replace the Element.
Mendel declined to say when it will arrive, whether it will look like the current Element or even whether it will be named Element.
The Element went on sale in 2003. Other than a mild reskin in 2007, it has remained unchanged.
Honda initially hoped to sell 75,000 units annually. But after its first year, when 67,478 were sold, the Element never managed to break 60,000. Honda sold 26,447 last year, and sales in 2009 are down 46 percent to 13,458 through November.
By contrast, the CR-V is the segment leader. At the peak year of 2007, Honda sold nearly 220,000.