The innovative, if controversial Honda Element will be pulled from production at the end of the 2011 model-year, the Japanese maker has announced.
Launched in 2002, as a 2003 model, the Element was an archetype of the boxy design niche that has gone from unique to near-mainstream, with the launch of competitors like the Kia Soul, Scion xB and Nissan Cube.
“It made boxy vehicle designs cool,” said John Mendel, executive vice president of American Honda. “The Element proved that ultimate functionality can often come from thinking inside the box.”
Honda took a number of small steps to try to keep Element fresh, adding more power and safety features in 2007, for example, and even launching the Dog Friendly Element accessory package in 2009.
But it failed to come up with a complete makeover in a segment where hipness and freshness are critical. Some owners wandered off to competitors like the Soul, the hot seller in the boxy segment, right now. Others stayed within the Honda franchise but shifted to more mainstream offerings, such as the similarly-sized CR-V crossover.