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Honda Element production to end

Fri, 03 Dec 2010

The 2011 model year is the last one for the Honda Element, Honda said on Friday, marking the end of an eight-year run for the boxy, small SUV.

The reason? Declining sales. Element sales this year totaled 12,960 units through the end of November, down 3.7 percent from the same period last year. Element sales peaked at 67,478 units in 2003, its first full year on the market. From 2007, when the Element was mildly restyled, to 2009, sales fell by more than half.

In its announcement, Honda noted that buyers were switching to other vehicles, such as the CR-V.

Based on the same platform used by the Honda Civic and the CR-V, the Element is marked by its boxy styling, rear-hinged side-access doors and its lack of a traditional B-pillar. The Element was previewed as the Model X concept at the Detroit auto show in 2001.

Honda executives talked about the Element appealing to younger buyers who have an active lifestyle. The Element's floor covering was a rubberlike material that was easy to wash, and the seats were covered with a sturdy fabric. But Honda found that the Element appealed to older buyers who had finished raising families.

Honda tried to woo dog owners to the Element with the “Dog Friendly” package in 2009. A dealer-installed option, the package included a ramp that connected to the rear cargo opening, a pet bed, a fabric crate and a water dish.

Honda builds the Element at its plant in East Liberty, Ohio.

By Dale Jewett