NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Honda took over a chunk of Times Square in New York yesterday to help launch its new 2011 CR-Z "sports hybrid," which the automaker heralds as a long-overdue response to a hybrid vehicle that's actually fun to drive.
The sleek, new two-passenger addition to the ever-expanding hybrid marketplace runs on a 1.5-liter i-VTEC 4-cylinder engine and has a 6-speed manual transmission. It handles like a sports car, Honda says, which sets it apart from other hybrids like the Civic or Toyota's Prius.
"[The CR-Z] doesn't look like any hybrid that has been on the market so far," said Thomas Peyton, Honda brand manager. "We really were looking for something over the top in terms of awareness, and something that also made a statement in terms of [its] cool factor."
To help, Honda enlisted the rock/hip-hop group N.E.R.D., which is releasing its new album, "Nothing," later this year. The group performed a short set after Honda presented its 3-D commercial for the CR-Z, which will be shown in theaters before 3-D movies this fall.
Mr. Peyton said he thinks this is just the beginning of the evolution of the hybrid from separate entity to full integration into other vehicle categories.
"Everybody is going to find different ways to integrate [hybrids], whether as family cars, sport cars or other kinds of vehicles in the marketplace," he said.