Insight sales way below that of the CRX HF
Delta Flyer, Honda sold the CRX HF from '85-'91. In '84 they sold the economy champion CRX 1.3, which had a different engine, and there was no '92 CRX in the U.S.
Honda expected to sell 5,000 Insights annually, and I originally thought that estimate would be too low.
I don't have any statistics showing how many CRX HF models were sold, but Honda did state, according to some car magazines back in the beginning of the '84 model year, that they would allocate 15,000 CRX 1.3 models and 30,000 CRX 1.5 models to the U.S. market. They all sold out, but there were very long waiting lists for the 1.5, which carried over to the '85 model year, whereas the 1.3 models had no waiting list at the dealer I purchased from, but they still sold very quick after arriving at the dealers. From mid-year '85 until '91 they also had the addition of the Si model to the lineup. Honda has never published to the press, as far as I know, how many of each CRX model were sold, but I'd bet it was between 10-15K per year for the HF.
Thus I agree that Honda probably did assume that they'd sell more than they have thus far, with 5,000 as a reasonable target, using the HF sales as a guide, and even adjusting the projected sales estimate downwards by perhaps over 50%, perhaps due to the cost of gasoline declining in real dollars between '91, when the HF last sold, until late '99, when the Insight arrived.
I do believe that the higher price of the Insight over the last '91 CRX HF is somewhat responsible for the much lower sales of the Insight. Even though there was perhaps a $9,000 nominal price difference between the 2, keep in mind that the price difference was perhaps just $4,500 or so in real dollars, adjusting for 9 years of inflation. Even so, the advances made in the Insight, even completely excluding everything that is hybrid related, more than offset the $4,500 difference in real dollars. The CRX HF didn't come standard with: a/c, stereo, speakers, rear window wiper/washer, passenger-side-view mirror, ABS brakes, airbags, aluminum body, aluminum alloy wheels, aluminum brake calipers, fuel economy gauges, electric power steering, and probably some more that I can't recall right now. Moreover, Honda, back in '91 was still only giving a general warranty of just 1 year/12K miles. There's a big value in having the next 2 years/extra miles under full warranty, as I and many other Insight owners have experienced.
On top of all this, the Insight is quicker, much more fuel efficient, offers significantly better crash protection, and a better ride quality, perhaps mostly due to the much more rigid chassis.
However, for some reason, many of the people (likely over 100,000)who purchased a CRX 1.3/HF didn't get interested enough in the Insight to go out and buy one. Perhaps the automotive press played a huge roll in surpressing sales here. During the years the CRX models were sold, the press always gave a big thumbs up to the cars. Most of their reviews were of the CRX 1.5 back in '84, and later on for the Si models. However, as can seemingly happen with any product that's greatly-regarded by the press, sales can carry over to a similar product that they make. And to some extent, I suppose some of the CRX 1.3/HF sales came as a result of the great reviews of the CRX 1.5, and later on the CRX Si. The mainstream automotive press didn't give such great reviews of the Insight. If Honda would have offered from the beginning a sport version of the Insight, along with the version that we ended up getting, then I believe that Honda would've sold more of the version we have, as well as an even larger number of sport versions, assuming that the sport version would've gotten decent reviews by the press.
There are many more reasons we can speculate as to why Insight sales were far short of CRX HF sales, including lack of marketing by Honda. 'Griller', in this discussion thread, referred to the car as "nerdy". Assuming that there's alot of potential buyers who perceive that the Insight would be interpreted as being nerdy, this surely wouldn't entice one to go out and buy the car. On the other hand, CRX owners have never spoken of such an image for the CRX 1.3 and HF models. Again, that's perhaps due to its affiliation with the highly-regarded models that make up the rest of the CRXes out there.
"Honda expected to build 5,000 Insights annually.
Does anyone know how many CRX HFs were made from 1984-1992?
I bet they sold more CRX HFs and Honda assumed that was a good guide for the Insight - they are so much alike.
My guess for why the Insight never sold as well as the CRX HF is the price difference - $11,000 vs $20,000 and cutting-edge technology. Small cars were also more popular in the 1980s."