Honda Element to be discontinued after 2011 model year

American Honda Motor Co. said Friday that it would stop making its Element utility vehicle after the 2011 model year.

In the U.S., the company has sold 325,000 of the boxy vehicles, which are popular among dog owners and bicycle enthusiasts because of the way the interior space can be arranged. Several bikes can be stored in the rear compartment standing up and without wheels being removed.

Honda said that the car had been overshadowed in its own lineup by the CR-V small SUV and that competitors had come out with other small utilities that compete with the Element.

"The Element proved that ultimate functionality can often come from thinking inside the box," said John Mendel, executive vice president of American Honda. "It made boxy vehicle designs cool."

But after an initial sales surge, the Element aged quickly, analysts said.

"The Element was never significantly updated in its nine-year history, so it couldn't stand the competition from Scion xB, Kia Soul, Nissan Cube and others," said Michelle Krebs, an analyst with, the auto information company.

Element sales peaked at more than 84,000 in 2003, accounting for nearly 10% of all compact SUV sales. But they have fallen steadily since then. Honda sold fewer than 14,000 Elements in the U.S. last year and is on track to sell about 16,000 this year. By comparison, Honda has already sold more than 180,000 CR-Vs this year.

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