Honda CR-V Hybrid to launch in Europe; still no word on US or Canada

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Honda CR-V Hybrid introduced at 2017 Shanghai auto show

Honda CR-V Hybrid introduced at 2017 Shanghai auto show

The Honda CR-V Hybrid, a more fuel-efficient version of the company's best-selling compact crossover, has been around for almost a year now.

It's on sale in China, announced for Japan, and now, as of Tuesday, it's slated to arrive in European markets early in 2019.

As for North America? The company offers radio silence, saying only it will offer information "when the time is right."

WATCH THIS: 2019 Honda Insight video preview from Detroit auto show

Honda said it intends to offer electrified versions of two-thirds of its vehicle lines in the U.S. But the date it has set for achieving that goal is 2030.

A deadline 11 years in the future says very little about any potential North American sales plans for the CR-V Hybrid.

This year, Honda appears to be focusing on the launch of the 2018 Accord Hybrid model of its redesigned and award-winning mid-size sedan, and also the new 2019 Insight hybrid compact sedan.

Honda Insight Prototype, 2018 Detroit auto show

Honda Insight Prototype, 2018 Detroit auto show

That second model, essentially a hybrid version of the latest Civic four-door sedan outfitted with more adult styling and added premium features, will go on sale sometime in the second half of this year.

Small sedans aren't particularly a growing segment, however, whereas a CR-V Hybrid crossover would enter the hottest area in U.S. new-vehicle sales.

The Toyota RAV4 Hybrid sold more than 50,000 units last year, so high that it effectively wiped the Prius V wagon—at less than one-fifth that number—out of the company's lineup. The Prius V was discontinued after the 2017 model year.

DON'T MISS: Toyota Prius V hybrid wagon ends U.S. run; RAV4 Hybrid took its sales (Nov 2017)

Courtesy of its European debut, we know that the Honda CR-V Hybrid will be offered with front-wheel drive as standard. Buyers can add all-wheel drive as an option.

As in the U.S., the CR-V's standard engine in Europe is a turbocharged 1.5-liter inline-4—though Europeans can order it with a six-speed manual gearbox in addition to the continuously variable transmission, or CVT, that's standard in the U.S.

The CR-V Hybrid uses a 2.0-liter Atkinson Cycle inline-4 paired with Honda's clever two-motor hybrid system, which entirely replaces the transmission.

Honda CR-V Hybrid prototype, 2017 Frankfurt auto show

Honda CR-V Hybrid prototype, 2017 Frankfurt auto show

Honda CR-V Hybrid prototype, 2017 Frankfurt auto show

Honda CR-V Hybrid prototype, 2017 Frankfurt auto show

Honda CR-V Hybrid prototype, 2017 Frankfurt auto show

Honda CR-V Hybrid prototype, 2017 Frankfurt auto show

Honda CR-V Hybrid prototype, 2017 Frankfurt auto show

Honda CR-V Hybrid prototype, 2017 Frankfurt auto show

That's the same two-motor hybrid system used in the new Accord Hybrid, the upcoming Insight, and the Clarity Plug-In Hybrid mid-size sedan that went on sale in November 2017.

Toyota's RAV4 Hybrid, which went on sale as a 2016 model with all-wheel drive standard and has since added a FWD-only version, is one of two hybrid compact crossovers.

The category was pioneered by the Ford Escape Hybrid launched in 2004. But Ford walked away from hybrid crossovers after the 2012 model year, offering instead the C-Max compact tall hatchback (in Hybrid and Energi plug-in hybrid versions).

CHECK OUT: 2018 Honda Clarity Plug-In Hybrid first drive

That vehicle suffered from not one but two reductions in its EPA fuel-economy ratings, and is now in the process of being withdrawn from U.S. sale.

The other compact crossover currently on the market is the Nissan Rogue Hybrid, which has a less-powerful hybrid system but delivers an incremental gas-mileage improvement over the conventional Rogue with a gasoline engine.

While rumors of a new Escape Hybrid pop up every now and then, Ford's strategy on hybrids remains a mystery: It hasn't introduced a single new electrified vehicle since the 2013 model year.

 
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