Honda's mid-sized pickup is here to stay. That's what the automaker is saying about the Ridgeline.
"Reports in the media that we have plans to discontinue the Ridgeline pick-up truck are false," Honda said this week on its Web site.
"To the contrary, Ridgeline has a significant role in the Honda line-up and it is expected to continue in the foreseeable future."
In our annual future product series on Aug. 1, we said the Ridgeline would be discontinued in 2013. A month later, I wrote a blog headlined "Why Honda's Ridgeline pickup is driving off into the sunset."
Our sources, including a Honda insider, had said Ridgeline as we know it would die and that it might be replaced by a compact pickup/lifestyle vehicle based on the CR-V platform
Honda now says a small pickup derived from the CR-V isn't in the works.
We'll skip a discussion about how long the "foreseeable future" lasts, and whether a vehicle that switches platforms but keeps its name is "killed" or not.
As for the facts: The Ridgeline arrived in 2005. Its best year was 2006, with 50,193 U.S. sales. This year, Honda will sell about one-fifth as many.
The sales dive is no surprise considering the lack of sheet metal changes and significant engineering improvements over the past six years. Honda says the 2012 Ridgeline will have new styling cues, improved fuel economy and an added trim level, called Sport.
I doubt they'll make much of difference in sales.
What Honda has in store beyond that for the Ridgeline is anyone's guess. The automaker is notoriously coy about its future product plans.
Two years before the launch of the CR-Z, Honda gave us a flat-out "no" when we asked if a sporty hybrid coupe was in the works.
Now, after we said the Ridgeline is a goner, Honda comes back and says it isn't.
Confused? Me, too.
What I do know is that Honda is going to have to make some pretty dramatic changes before the Ridgeline plays that "significant" role in Honda's lineup.