There’s a new petition up on Change.org calling for the government to bring the 276 hp Honda Civic Type R VTEC Turbo to America. It is utterly pointless, and here’s why I signed it.
Carmakers can’t just sell any car they build in any country they want. Each car has to pass a country’s emissions and safety standards before it can be sold there. For instance, the Honda Fit in America has different headlights and front and rear bumpers as the equivalent Honda Fit does in Japan. Functionally, the Fit and the Jazz are the same car. They are both safe and they are both relatively clean.
So you even have to make changes on an already-global car. The price for getting a whole new car, like this Civic Type R VTEC Turbo, safety- and emissions-compliant in a new market can cost as much as $50 million, which was case for the Lotus Elise.
So it wouldn’t be cheap for Honda to get the Civic Type R VTEC Turbo into America (man, do I like writing that full name) — could they still make money on the car? Well, the first question would be how much the car would cost.
This is a little speculative, but the car is expected to run about £30,000 in the UK when it launches in 2015. You can’t quite translate that cost with a simple conversion, so you need a reference point. The Focus ST, which is about as close to a direct rival as you can find both in the UK and USA, starts at a bit over £22,000 over there. So if the Civic Type R VTEC Turbo runs £8,000 more than a Focus ST, you could expect it to run at least $8,000 more than a Focus ST in America. Given that the Focus ST starts at about $24,000 in the US, you can then extrapolate the Civic Type R VTEC Turbo wouldn’t start below $30,000 and would probably be around $32k.
Now, you could go on about how the Mustang GT offers more performance for the money, but that’s not really fair. A Civic Type R VTEC Turbo wouldn’t go after the same kind of buyer. Really, what kind of buyer would go after it at all? How many $30,000 Civics do you think Honda is really going to sell? Do you really think Honda could justify the tens of millions of dollars it would cost to homologate this super Civic for a completely niche audience?
I think you can see it would be an extremely tough sell, and it has a lot to do with international economic hurdles that a Change.org petition isn’t going to alter any time soon.
So why did I sign the stupid petition? Because in spite of everything I still want to see the car for sale in the US. I want to see the costs of homologation reduced with streamlined international regulations. I want to see more Americans interested in buzzy hot hatchbacks, enough to justify those import costs. I want Honda to make the Civic to be a truly global car again, with global performance variants.
And more than that, I want to belong. I want to be one of the idiots who just wants this car, dammit, and can go on a forum and tell the world that I let the government know about it.
Or, I guess I could just wait until the next Mazdaspeed3 comes out. That would work, too.
And here’s the damn petition if you’re so curious.
(Hat tip to Hangus77!)
Photo Credits: Honda, Change.org
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