New plans at Honda call for the end to the Honda S2000. Also dead are a series of Acura rear-wheel-drive vehicles, a new V8 engine, and the Honda CR-Z convertible.
Honda has put an end to the next generation Honda S2000 in a restructuring plan meant to flex the company's green muscle while bringing them back to basics. A halt to the S2000 will no doubt leave many fans of the roadster disappointed.
The plan was first announced in an end-of-the-year speech by Honda CEO Takeo Fukui. In that speech, he directly addressed the need to cut projects like the Honda NSX (Acura NSX, in America), as the need to be sustainable outweighed the demand for sports cars. The new direction was a result of the rapidly declining economy, and sudden -yet massive- fluctuations in oil pricing. Fukui believes products that larger audiences want, and are capable of paying for, will insulate the company from any more exposure to a global economic crisis.
Where exactly this will take Honda in the near future is unclear. In addition to killing off the S2000 and the NSX, it is believed that several Acura rear-wheel-drive cars meant to compete with BMW, a new V8 engine, and a Honda CR-Z convertible have all been given the axe.
The reasons for putting such a dent in Acura seems clear: Acura US sales dropped more than 39% for December, falling exactly 20% compared to last year. Honda branded vehicles also had significant losses for both time periods, but Acura's losses were worse in every category of car and truck. With many economists believing the auto industry will be strained for at least two years, Honda is refocusing on increasing production of the vehicles that have continued to sell well despite the times.
Cutting the V8 engine maybe makes the most sense, as even Honda insiders believed it to be impractical and needless. What seems unclear is the reasoning behind the death of the CR-Z hybrid convertible, which surely would have found an audience.
Currently, two different Honda Accords are built, with one being shipped to the States, and one for everybody else. This practice will likely stop, as one Accord for everybody would substantially cut down on Honda's costs.
No doubt Honda looked at sales figures for the Mazda Miata before deciding to end the successor programme to the S2000. U.S. Miata sales dropped over 27% on the year; 61% in December alone.
Honda CEO Takeo Fukui has made company objectives clear: 500,000 hybrids built by 2012, including the Honda Insight and the 80mpg Honda Jazz. It is too bad they could not figure out a way to keep the Honda S2000 in the fold. Hopefully, they will take another look at the project when the economy recovers.