Honda Motor Co. has announced that in April 2011, it will cease production of its Element model. The Element, a boxy, compact crossover SUV, which was first introduced as a 2003 model, had a nine-year run. It received significant revisions in the 2009 model year. The Element has not sold well enough for Honda to continue production.
The Element was intended to appeal to young buyers who were looking for interior space and versatility for recreational activities such as biking and surfing. Instead, the model appealed more to senior buyers who liked the Element’s utility, higher driving position, and relatively affordable price. The Element had a similar shape as the boxy Scion xB, which was first introduced in 2004, but offered a more powerful four-cylinder engine and all-wheel drive option.
The Element competes in the highly competitive compact SUV segment against models such as the Ford Escape, Toyota RAV-4 and Honda CR-V. The Element is known for its rubber surface cargo and floor area, which can be hosed out for easy cleaning,
The Element is assembled at Honda’s East Liberty, Ohio plant, where CR-V models are also assembled. The plant will shift to production to more CR-Vs once Element production ceases. Honda does not anticipate layoffs at the plant.
In the end, Honda did not differentiate the Element enough from the CR-V. Both shared a 2.4 liter 180 horsepower four-cylinder engine with many of the same components. However, the CR-V offers more passenger space, more cargo space, slightly more power, and better fuel economy for a comparable price. The CR-V is the best selling SUV in America having sold more than 180,000 models this year through November. In comparison, the Element sold less than 13,000 units during the same time period, down nearly four percent from 2009.