Days before its official debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show, Honda has given us a first look at the new CR-V Hybrid. Make that the Euro-spec version of the gas-electric CR-V, as the automaker has yet to confirm any plans to bring the hybrid to the United States.
But it’s clear Honda wants to get into a market segment that appears to be on the rise, following the recent launch of the hybrid Toyota RAV-4 model.
The debut of the Honda CR-V Hybrid will be accompanied in Frankfurt next week by the debut of the Urban EV Concept. Both models will be personally unveiled by CEO Takahiro Hachigo, whose oft-stated goal is to generate fully two-thirds of Honda’s sales from battery and hydrogen-powered models by 2030.
We’ll have to wait until next week to get a close-up look at the Honda CR-V Hybrid. One of the most immediate questions is how much it has changed since Honda revealed a hybrid version of the crossover at the Shanghai Motor Show earlier this year. Official both the Shanghai and Frankfurt models are “concepts,” by Honda’s definition.
(Click Here for more on Honda’s plans for Frankfurt.)
But the automaker has a propensity to use that term to thinly disguise versions of its vehicles it’s about to put into production, and the one coming to the German motor show is likely to be awfully close to what European buyers will actually be able to drive home in within a matter of months.
What we do know is that the underlying gas-electric drivetrain is quite similar to what is already available in the 2018 Honda Accord Hybrid. It starts with a 2.0-liter inline-four gas engine using the more efficient Atkinson cycle. That is paired with two electric motors, one specifically adding torque and the other functioning as a motor generator. Unusually, the two-motor system launched on the Honda Accord has a single-speed direct drive transmission, rather than the CVT used on earlier Honda hybrids.
The CR-V Hybrid is expected to offer similar options to the driver, meanwhile, allowing them to switch between eco, normal and sport driving modes, the latter using the electric motors as a sort of turbocharger when a boost of power is needed. And, as with other Honda hybrids, the CR-V will allow only a marginal amount of driving in all-electric mode.
(Nissan reveals all-new 2018 Leaf battery-electric vehicle. Click Here to check it out.)
Attempts to find out how the new CR-V Hybrid coming to Frankfurt fits into Honda’s plans for the U.S. were rebuffed with the terse explanation that this is “a European model,” and that there are currently no plans to discuss an electrified version for the States. It is unclear if that is a short-term PR strategy or if Honda simply doesn’t see any immediate need to bring a version of the Hybrid over to the States.
But there is little doubt that such a hybrid ute will eventually show up at American Honda dealers. Indeed, Hachigo and other executives have suggested we’ll likely see electrified versions of just about every vehicle in the company’s line-up. Honda now has three different hybrid drivelines in its toolkit, a single-motor system for entry-level models, the more capable twin-motor technology found in the Accord Hybrid, and a three-motor system that is now offered in several Accord models, notably including the NSX supercar and MDX SUV.
Like rival Toyota, Honda was slow to embrace lithium-ion battery technology but it is now jumping on that bandwagon and will also be rolling out a variety of both plug-in hybrids and full battery-electric models. In fact, it now is offering both PHEV and BEV versions of its Clarity model, as well as the original hydrogen fuel-cell version.
(Flood of long-range electric cars set to roll into U.S. market by 2020. Click Here to see what’s coming.)