Saturday, October 29, 2011

Thoughts regarding the Honda CR-Z in Malaysia/ASEAN

With the launch of the Honda CR-Z now almost upon us here in Malaysia, my thoughts have been wondering along the lines of considering what kind of buyers would be interested in this rather unique sporty coupe and what would be the cars they will be cross-shopping against.

First of all, thanks to the dominance of the U.S. on the internet, the widely held assumption is that the CR-Z is a 2-seater coupe. This is most probably not the case for our units here. The Honda CR-Z launched here will be imported CBU from Japan, as is all CR-Zs sold across the world. But it will be a RHD version and it will most probably be a 2+2, i.e. the ability to seat 4, or maybe even 5 persons (at a rather tight squeeze for the back passengers). The unit on display at the KLIMS last year was a 2+2, though perhaps not many people will have noticed since it wasn't easily accessible. 

Those who have booked the CR-Z (as I understand, quite a few already) will probably know and those who are interested should also be aware of this. It is like the case of the original CR-X, on which the CR-Z is supposedly the spiritual successor (thought subjected to some controversy). The CR-X was a 2-seater in the U.S. and a 2+2 everywhere else.

Price-wise, understandably Honda Malaysia cannot give me any indications at all. But if we use the JDM pricing, where the Insight starts at around 2 million yen while the CR-Z starts at 2.2 to 2.3 million yen, then a 'purata' estimation suggests that it should be around 15 to 20% higher in price. Given that the Insight starts at around RM100k, that suggests maybe a best price of around RM120k ? Highly unlikely I would think, due to the logistical and economical reasons. 

The biggest problem with a niche model like the CR-Z is precisely that it is 'niche'. Honda Malaysia has been very 'brave' for insisting that they must have a niche model in its line-up while many countries here in ASEAN doesn't even bother. A niche model, is by definition very low in sales volume. While models like even the Freed or Jazz may be measured in terms of sales volumes of hundreds or even thousands a month, the FD2 Civic Type-R last time for e.g. was measured in terms of 60 units a year in sales volume, i.e. single-digit sales figure per month. Anyone who knows how it is like to do business will know that this kind of (extremely low) sales volume drives costs of sales up tremendously. The issue is with warranty, maintenance of spare parts inventory, recovery of expenses incurred in sales (advertisement, P.R. cost, etc), and all sorts of other things. As a consumer, it is very easy for us to state that we are not bothered and that it is the responsibility of the manufacturer, but in the end, every car maker exists to make a profit. They need profit to continue to even exist. 

Given this, my own personal estimate is that there is a chance CR-Z will be launched at a selling price above RM130k, perhaps between the price of the Civic 2.0l and the most basic Accord variant. 

But this is only one part of the picture. 

My personal opinion, based on my own opinions of the Malaysian car marketplace is that selling the CR-Z, given its current specification, at above RM130k is going to be a certain recipe for disaster, effectively ensuring the CR-Z will never sell here. 

So in the end, my personal hope is that Honda Malaysia will launch the CR-Z, very soon, at a selling price closer to that of the Civic 2.0l. Who knows, maybe they might pull off another 'FD2R' with the CR-Z and go below RM130k, cheaper than the Civic 2.0l ? I feel this is not very likely but I thought the same for the FD2R last time too so no matter how unlikely it may be, I think there is always hope !

I will continue with more thoughts in follow-up posts over the next few days.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

New Freed Hybrid variants go on sale in Japan

TOKYO, Japan, October 27, 2011 - Honda Motor Co., Ltd. announced it would begin sales of the all-new Freed Hybrid minivan and Freed Spike Hybrid tall wagon at dealerships across Japan on October 28, 2011. Like all models in the acclaimed Freed series, these new hybrids offer a spacious, comfortable interior and a large cargo area in a compact body. Both models will combine a smooth ride with outstanding fuel economy and affordable price, as with any Honda hybrid vehicle. The refreshed Freed and Freed Spike gasoline-engine models will also become available on October 28. Furthermore, Honda will launch a new range of Freed special-needs vehicles on November 25, including a wheelchair-accessible model with a newly developed electric winch, a side lift-up seat model, and a passenger lift-up seat model.

For the public news release, go to the Honda worldwide website at the link below:

Honda Insight MMC and new 1.5l 'Insight Exclusive' variant goes on sale in Japan

TOKYO, Japan, October 27, 2011 - Honda Motor Co., Ltd. introduced the newly refreshed Insight hybrid model, a popular model known for its exceptional environmental performance and affordable price. In addition, the new Insight Exclusive model featuring a 1.5-liter engine has joined the Insight lineup. Honda will begin sales of both models at dealerships across Japan on November 11.

Read the Honda news release on Honda's worldwide website at the link below :

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Photos of flooded Honda factory in Thailand

TOVA reader/support 'Fish-Chan' posted some photos of the flooded HAT (Honda Automobile Thailand) factory on our TOV forums board. I thought those photos would be of interest to all Honda fans so I decided to publish them here. 

'Fish-Chan' did not indicate from where he sourced the photos from but I am sure once he reads this post, he will explain. In the meantime, many thanks to him for the photos as I am sure many Honda fans would be very curious on the extent of the impact the flood in Thailand has on a very unlucky Honda. First the great Tohoku earthquake in March, and now this great Thailand flood in October, both disasters inside a year.

The photos can be viewed after the jump, by clicking on the link below.

Honda Malaysia plant temporary shutdown

Honda Malaysia halts production and sources parts suppliers

Petaling Jaya, 25th October 2011 – Honda Malaysia Sdn Bhd (“Honda Malaysia” or the “Company”) announces that it will halt production in Pagoh Plant, Melaka from today onward due to parts shortage caused by the floods in Thailand. The floods have caused a huge number of factories in the supply chain to shut down, which include Honda Automobile (Thailand) Co., Ltd. and other major suppliers who supply parts to Honda Malaysia. The Company has been actively accessing the situation and its parts suppliers’ recovery. Honda Malaysia is also studying the feasibility of sourcing parts from other countries until its suppliers’ production in Thailand returns to normal.

“We announce with regret that we have to temporary halt production in Pagoh Plant, in Melaka due to parts shortage. We apologize for the delay of delivery and we appreciate the understanding of our customers. We are doing all we that can within our capacity to recover the production here in Malaysia as soon as possible,” said Mr. Yoichiro Ueno, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Honda Malaysia.

“The good news is that all our CBU models such as Insight, Stream and Freed are not affected, except for Jazz that is imported from Thailand, which we have sufficient stock to fulfill the current market demand,” he added.

Asian Honda Motor Co., Ltd. has recently donated 100 million baht (RM10 million) to Thai Red Cross Society to help flood victims in Thailand. Honda Malaysia will keep its customers informed of the plant’s progress and it looks forward to bringing good news to the customers.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

CONFIRMED DATE for Honda CR-Z launch

It is "double-confirmed" now. The Honda CR-Z is coming to Malaysia, to be launched almost right at the start of next month, barely two weeks away. Based on past track record, the information from the TOVA reader says that what will be launched will be the 6MT version, with the CVT version still under consideration and this info should be accurate. With the Malaysian government extending tax exemption for hybrid vehicles for another year until end of next year, this means that the CR-Z promises to probably be the most affordable sports coupe sold in Malaysia.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Flood in Thailand : Official Honda Malaysia statement

Honda Malaysia informs effects of plant suspension in Thailand

Petaling Jaya, 13th September 2011 – Honda Automobile (Thailand) Co., Ltd. (“HATC”, Ayutthaya plant) is forced to halt production due to severe floods that are hitting Thailand now. Honda Malaysia Sdn. Bhd. (“Honda Malaysia” or “the Company”) today informs its customers of the effect of the shutdown on Malaysia’s plant.

“We would like to express our deepest condolences to the flood victims in Thailand and we hope that the country would make prompt recovery from the damages imposed by the natural disaster,” said Mr. Yoichiro Ueno, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Honda Malaysia.

The suspension of HATC’s plant production in Ayutthaya area has an inevitable impact on Honda Malaysia’s production as HATC, along with its suppliers in the same region whose operations are also suspended, provides considerable number of parts for the Malaysian CKD (complete knocked down) models namely City, Civic, Accord and CR-V.

Since this Monday, Honda Malaysia has reduced its output in Melaka to prolong the production using on-hand stock. “We regret that there will be delay in product delivery as the production in our plant slows down due to the suspension of parts supply. Currently, the delivery timing for all our CBU (complete built-up) units are not affected,” Mr. Yoichiro added.

“At the time of statement, the HATC remains flooded and it is unapproachable. This is making it difficult for us to estimate the time of recovery. However, we will assess the situation closely on a daily basis and hope for the best though we foresee the recovery may take longer than we originally expected. We would like to thank our customers for their understanding and support and we will continue to provide the best products and services despite the challenging situation the company is facing.”

Monday, October 17, 2011

Honda CR-Z coming to Malaysia !!

EXACTLY as told to me by a TOVA Honda-Fan reader recently, Honda Malaysia have just announced that they will be launching the CR-Z here in November this year (2011). Thus the reader was 100% accurate right to the launching date !! This means that all his other information are highly likely to be correct as well. Thanks !

The official press release from Honda Malaysia is below.


Petaling Jaya, 17 October 2011 – Honda Malaysia Sdn Bhd today announced that the award-winning Honda CR-Z will be introduced to the Malaysian market in early November 2011. Malaysia will be the first country in Southeast Asia to launch the Honda CR-Z. “We are pleased that the government has decided to extend the full exemption of import duty and excise duty until December 2013 as announced recently in the Budget 2012. The launch of the CR-Z is timely to support the government’s effort to promote green technology and ensure sustainable development of the nation,” said Mr. Yoichiro Ueno, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Honda Malaysia.

Due to the overwhelming response of the Honda Insight after its launched last year, Honda Malaysia decided to bring in another hybrid vehicle to offer Malaysians more hybrid vehicle options.

The Honda CR-Z was named 2010/ 2011 Car of the Year (COTY) in Japan and won the 2010 Japan Industrial Design Promotion Organisation (JIDPO) Good Design Award. The revolutionary hybrid vehicle is environmentally responsible and at the same time, fun to drive. Since it went on sale in February 2010 in Japan, the Honda CR-Z has been well received with close to 34,000 units sold worldwide as at end December 2010.

More information on the launch of Honda CR-Z will be released in due time.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Honda Freed and Freed Spike Hybrids

Concurrently, Honda has also announced hybrid versions of the Honda Freed and Freed Spike for Japan. The base Freed and Freed Spike uses a 1.5l SOHC i-VTEC engine and the new hybrid variants will also be using a 1.5l engine, i-VTEC with IMA. Again no other details are available at this moment in time. The relevant url is at

New 1.5l Insight variant for Japan

In their domestic website at, Honda has announced a new variant for the Honda Insight for Japan. This new 'exclusive' or 'premium' variant will be carrying the larger 1.5l i-VTEC IMA engine. There are no official details yet so it is not clear whether the engine will be the one from the Honda Civic Hybrid or the Honda CR-Z. On the relevant page, there is a photo of the tachometer showing a redline at almost 6,000rpm which suggests the former as more likely, though it is not confirmed if the photo is for the new 1.5l variant. There are no indications if the battery will remain the NiMH type or the new LiOn type. Note that the new 9Gen Civic has not been launched in Japan and currently there is no Civic in its line-up. So the HCH and its detail is from the U.S./Canada version.

The url for the announcement of this new variant is :