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Honda has already locked down 7,000 orders for its CR-Z hybrid sports car, more than half of the car's annual sales target of 12,000 units. Still, Honda should be cautiously optimistic as last year sales of the new Insight model started out strong but started to dwindle once Toyota released its third-generation Prius – a direct competitor. Overall, Honda still managed to move 92,283 Insights in 2009, 50 percent more than the sales target. In the U.S., sales of the Insight weren't nearly as good, with Honda missing the mark of 100,000 units by a fair margin. The good news for Honda is that the CR-Z will have no competitor in the near future, when it goes on sale in the Summer.

Honda is hoping to sell 15,000 CR-Z models in the U.S. this year.

The CR-Z stands alone in the marketplace, as a two-seater hybrid, using a 1.5-liter gasoline engine and electric assist motor, to deliver 122-hp and a 36/38 mpg (city/highway) rating. The car's biggest potential problem is that as good as those numbers are, they aren't as good as the standard Insight and performance is less than impressive with a 0-62 mph time of 9.7 seconds. Still, as the only hybrid on the market with a six-speed manual transmission and Honda's reputation for driving dynamics, we'll hold off on a final comment until we get to drive it.

More: Report: Honda CR-Z Orders Reach 7,000 In Japan, Half of Yearly Sales Goal on
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