By Cars.com EditorsMay 13, 2009
About the video
From the L.A. Auto Show, Cars.com's Joe Wiesenfelder takes a look at the tech features of Honda's FCX Clarity concept car.
The clarity is just the right part, normal car and just the right part high-tech car. It has all the normal pieces you'd want steering wheel, pedals, all that good stuff, even a navigation system.
But when you go to start it, you turn the key and then you get these fantastic, like 3d gauges. You start by turning the key, you step on the brake and you push the power button to start the fuel cell. To be clear, this is a fuel cell electric vehicle. This does not burn hydrogen. Hydrogen is turned into electricity in the fuel cell. It tells you then when you're ready to drive and the gear selector is actually more of a switch. You get neutral drive and reverse and park. You hit the park button. Now, if you listen to this startup sequence. Fire up the Fuel cell. That's the sound of air being rushed through it because air mixes with hydrogen, they need a compressor to run it through there. And then off we go. Compared to a gasoline, because this is pretty quiet. That's what battery electrics were like. This might be a little bit louder because there are different mechanisms pumping air into the fuel cell and also for cooling. Now it has decent pickup, which electric motors give you, but it's not great. I think the best way to look at it is this is a car with certainly with enough power, maybe even a little more than you need. If the car is empty, you fill it up with people and stuff. It's not going to be that quick, but all of this stuff is pretty academic. If you think about it, it's about the technology and the fact that the car is pretty much like any other car to drive. You rapidly forget that you're driving anything special. It's similar to a hybrid. Everything turns off the fuel cell turns off and you're just waiting to go again. (car noises) Very Star Wars We've seen this before first in the Honda CRX, and then in the insight and the Toyota Prius, it's a window here and the trunk lid, which is great, but there's still a bit of a blind spot up here. The car is designed to protect the hydrogen fuel tank, and that ends up putting a lot of structure up here where you want to be looking. What they've done with this model is they've made everything a little bit smaller and a little bit more powerful. Every generation of FCX has a smaller battery that puts out more energy, a smaller fuel cell that puts out more energy and a smaller motor that has more power. Now what's amazing about the FCS clarity is it feels so much like a normal car, but don't let that lead you to believe. You're going to see it anytime soon at a dealership, aside from the obvious issues, like where do I get hydrogen gas? This is an extremely expensive prototype. Well, it's handmade and they're going to be a hundred of them, but still it's extremely expensive because of the cost of the fuel cell and other aspects of it. I wouldn't say it's a million dollar vehicle, but that's probably just the technicality. It's no Bugatti Veyron but I got to tell you it's nice to be able to drive a million dollar car. For additional information on this car or any other go to cars.com and our blog Kicking Tires.