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Earlier today, we showed you Top Gear's first test of the Tesla Roadster. In that clip, it was alluded to that there would be something later in the same episode that would render the Roadster completely irrelevant. Here it is: the Honda FCX Clarity, which is also electric but gets its charge from hydrogen. James May travels all the way from the UK to LA, California, to put the Clarity through its paces, and he happens to meet another familiar face while there.

James and Jay (Leno, that is) take some time to reflect on the Honda's impact on their favorite hobby, that of driving classic cars on the weekends, and conclude that the FCX Clarity and hydrogen cars in general will someday be the saviors of the automotive world - just as the internal combustion engine was the savior of the horse (huh?). Sure, there may be a few issues to address before that can happen, not the least of which are hydrogen capture, transportation and storage... but that's all going to be worked out in - you guessed it - the future, right? Watch the full video after the break.

[Source: YouTube]

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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 50 Comments
      • 6 Years Ago
      I noticed 3 major errors in that test report:
      1. "There is no battery" Wrong. The FCX Clarity has a LiIon battery pack that supplements fuel cell power for acceleration, stores regenerative energy, and runs the car for the 10 minutes or so it takes for fuel cell startup.

      2. "Hydrogen is compressed into a liquid" Wrong. Hydrogen will not liquify at room temperature at ANY pressure. The FCX Clarity uses H2 gas compressed to 7,000 psi. Kinda hard to spill a lighter-than-air gas on your shoes, too!

      3. "They won't cost any more than a regular car" The H2 storage tank alone cost more than the Tesla Roadster battery pack, and the H2 fuel cell alone costs as much as 5 complete Tesla Roadsters! Several breakthroughs would be required to bring the cost down to merely expensive levels, and there have been no hints of any such breakthroughs.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Tesla report balanced?

      Depends who you ask:

      The following is taken from Rachel Konrad's comment on the devorak.org blog

      For the record: Thanks to The Stig’s impressive turn behind the wheel, the Tesla Roadster gets a higher ranking in Top Gear’s performance board than a Porsche 911 GT3. Jeremy Clarkson, a die-hard “petrol head” with a clear bias against green cars generally, said that it must be “snowing in hell” because he had such a great time driving the Roadster and now considers himself a “volt head” thanks to the Roadster’s amazing performance. This is amazingly high praise from Clarkson, whose entire schtick is to savage even his most beloved petrol-guzzling sports cars.

      However, I would like to clarify a couple things. Never at any time did Clarkson or any of the Top Gear drivers run out of charge. In fact, they never got below 20 percent charge in either car; they never had to push a car off the track because of lack of charge or a fault. (It’s unclear why they were pushing one into a garage in the video; I’ll refrain from speculating about their motives.)

      The “brake failure” Clarkson mentions was solely a blown fuse; a service technician replaced the Roadster’s pump and it was back up and running immediately. They were never without a car, and the Top Gear testing did not put the Roadster’s reliability or safety in question whatsoever. Again, I’m going to leave out comments as to why the good folks at Top Gear might have mischaracterized the blown fuse as a brake failure, which is was decidedly not.

      I am also unclear as to why Clarkson said it took 16 hours to recharge the Roadster without qualifying that statement at all. The vast majority of people who have taken delivery of their Roadsters (and there are more than 100 of them now) have much faster systems that recharge from dead to full in as little as 3.5 hours.

      However, I really enjoyed Clarkson’s suggestion that, if people want to race Roadsters 24-7, they should simply buy two.

      Rachel Konrad
      Senior Communications Manager
      Tesla Motors Inc.

      But then top gear journalists always take cars for a "spin"
        • 5 Months Ago
        I don't think TG did right with their Tesla review (and the FCX Clarity segment was even worse -- so disappointed in James May). However, this statement by Rachel Konrad doesn't add up:

        "The “brake failure” Clarkson mentions was solely a blown fuse; a service technician replaced the Roadster’s pump and it was back up and running immediately."

        If the problem was only a blown fuse, why did a service technician have to replace a pump?
        • 5 Months Ago
        It makes their Hydrogen Puff piece that much more ridiculous.
        • 5 Months Ago
        mal, thanks for posting this. It's good to hear a clarification of what seemed like a pretty unlikely event (there is after all a 'fuel gauge' on the dashboard, so while you might run out of energy, you should never be surprised when it happens.)

        I would also like to point out the the correct answer to the question
        "How long does it take to charge?"
        is ALWAYS
        "How big is your plug?"
        • 5 Months Ago
        A blown fuse indicates excessive current draw, which could indicate a potential failure of another component. The brakes could work without that brake fluid pump, but would be more difficult to activate, so the pump was replaced as a reasonable precaution.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Video no longer available :(
      • 6 Years Ago
      I'm disappointed that James May can't drivetest an automobile, explain its revolutionary propulsion system and investigate all nascent hydrogen production options and worldwide distribution infrastructure in 9 minutes.
      • 6 Years Ago
      It is baffling why all of the plug-in battery advocates don't stop and wonder if they are wrong considering that Honda (an EXTREMELY smart company) has completely rejected the technology.

      Do you think you really know more about cars than all of the engineers at Honda? Why do you believe the people at Tesla (who have absolutely no experience or success in the auto industry) and not believe Honda and Toyota which are the top two car companies in the world?

      Maybe you should start questioning all of your assumptions about both technologies.

      I highly recommend reading the following article titled the "Top 25 quotes from Toyota and Honda executives criticizing plug-in battery technology:"

      http://hydrogendiscoveries.wordpress.com/2008/11/07/top-25-quotes-from-toyota-and-honda-executives-criticizing-plug-in-battery-technology/

      Greg Blencoe
      Chief Executive Officer
      Hydrogen Discoveries, Inc.
        Dakujem
        • 5 Months Ago
        5 years later: where's your company now, Greg?
        • 5 Months Ago
        Um, could it be that those "smart engineers" realize that if they told the top executives the truth, then the H2 fuel cell project would be canceled and they'd be out of a job? Could it be a "follow the leader" deal, doing it because GM did it? Could it be their way of stifling the "zero emission mandate" by vague promises of H2 cars that will never actually be sold? Could it be that they are just doing it to get fat government research grants that will keep going as long as the H2 hype continues?

        Sorry, but batteries are 3x more efficient than fuel cells, and batteries are far far cheaper than fuel cells. Those are not "assumptions", those are simple facts. But of course, when your whole business career depends on the H2 hype, it is easy to ignore those inconvenient facts.

        It must really gall you that all those H2 fuel cell prototypes also require a substantial battery pack!
        • 5 Months Ago
        You've never worked in an engineering company before have you? It's quite obvious....
      • 6 Years Ago
      I said that pure battery car are not on par with nothing, it's only a piece of trouble from the start to the end. It can serve as a toy for children but nothing else. The top gear used hard the car and it almost fry the battery and it needed one day to recover because it's cheap and complicated and sub-par technology to even a flat head engine from the 1910 era. You will never run from los angeles to vegas in one shot but you can run from los angeles to vegas with a ford model-t, so why mess with poor chemical tied to anode and cathode that cost a fortune and brake apart since it's tied up together at the factory. Fuelcell are reliable and more powerful and cheaper and last a lifetime and can be replenish in 3 minutes without pollution and for cheaper then battery recharge because you just put separated water in the tank and water cost nothing and don't believe the stupid that say to you that you put electricity in the tank because the thermodynamic law that they invented say that free energy don't exist. Free energy exist , just look at the sun with your eyes for 1 hour and tell me what broke your eyes for free, lol. So you separate water in 2 and you put that hydrogen in a metal tank. Approx 20 cents worth of electricity is needed. That's the mistake of honda, they don't manufacture and sell an efficient hydrogen producing machine with their car so like the rest they don't offer a sensible package to their customers and customers almost cease to buy anything car-related in the last months... Honda did 98% of the job then say to shell to provide hydrogen to everybody, LOL. Shell know that they will make 5 cents profit margin on every hydrogen gallon equivalent as soon as the hydrogen infrastructure begin to expand because it cost next to nothing to make. The best is to install the refueling pumps at grocery stores where people buy cigaretts, beer, bulet, chips, coke, drugs, lighter, toilet paper, etc.
        • 5 Months Ago
        U R so right gorr, if only more people edumacated like you and stopped inventing fictional thermodynamic law or such hooey. Hydrogen is free, soo free it evaporate from water, and ocean soon be gone! Fuel cell don't need platinum plate replaced 10k miles, they last forever and cheap! Energy conversions are story made up by haters, fuel cells 99% efficient! Hydrogen not energy storage medium, it energy source (since it evaporate from water for free). Batteries inefficient, only same as combustion engine!
        • 5 Months Ago
        Gorr, if you ever want to persuade someone, you are going to have to make a rational reasonable argument. Unfortunately, judging by your posts, that appears to be way beyond your abilities.

        Ranting will not work!
      • 6 Years Ago
      Worst TopGear comedy ever! Jeremy and his ignorant crew did it again.
      1:37 "There are no batteries"
      • 6 Years Ago
      There's a long way to go for these cars. I don't see them being used even in the coming 4-5 years time.

      Used cars
      Cheap cars
      • 6 Years Ago
      This is the best green car on the road right now and the best electrical car ever. But the problem is that hydrogen can propel not just this car but regular ice car too and it's the same thing that exit the tailpipe, water. So the cheaper alternative is a new or used car convert to run on hydrogen and the only emission is water. But the hydrogen don't need an infrastructure to be produced, store and distributed via refueling stations, it need a simple water electrolyser. Im here to shop and im still waiting for a car like the scorpion with a water electrolyser inside but 100% hho, not just partially.
        • 5 Months Ago
        Don't go "shopping" for such a car, as we've pointed out repeatedly, those selling "water cars" like Stanley Meyers have all been scam artists that take the money but never deliver.

        Go build your own. All the information about making an electrolysis cell is readily available, there are even groups of enthusiasts eager to share their experience about "HHO".

        I have grown tired of explaining to you why a car powered solely by an on-board electrolysis cell doesn't work. It's time for you to prove your assertion that it can work, at least to yourself.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Here is an example of some horrible reporting by TG. They totally ignored the crazy cost of this car ($500,000-$1,000,000), its dependence of fossil fuels (unless you want to spend a massive amount on creating hydrogen from solar), and the huge problem of creating new hydrogen fueling stations.

      They also still make fun of the Prius yet the FCX Clarity copies the design of the Prius and has the same average performance (0-60 in under 9 seconds).

      Get rid of the Honda PR pamphlet and do your own reporting TG.
        • 5 Months Ago
        Good Cheer wrote: "-ah... except that in BOTH cases, the vehicle will be driven by an electric motor. Once you get the hydrogen out of the storage tank, you still have to convert it to electricity. That's one of the places were you lose your efficiency."

        How much though? Its a 'pure' reaction and a very efficient one. A typical ICE gets what... 10-15% efficiency at best? An electric gets about 90%, maybe more (depends on the power factor, back EMF, etc... of the motor which through the controller, can be even higher, like 98%). A fuel cell does have that extra 'stage', but its still a very efficient one... something like 90%, so total losses are 10% and 10% maybe... and thats still about 4x more efficient than an ICE. Unless its a combustion driven hydrogen engine... then its different... then you are back to typical ICE operation and efficiency... which is a power dump compared to true fuel cell operation.
        • 5 Months Ago
        Jon, there is a considerable difference in efficiency (electricity in / electricity out) between H2 fuel cells and batteries.

        The combined efficiency of charger and LiIon batteries is 85%. The combination of electrolyzer, compression for storage, and PEM fuel cell is only 24%.

        The PEM fuel cell by itself is only 50% efficient, the highest efficiency fuel cell is an alkaline fuel cell at about 85% but it requires pure H2 and pure O2 without a trace of CO2 and costs even more than the PEM fuel cells. Not suprising that alkaline fuel cells are unsuitable for automotive use.
        • 5 Months Ago
        @noz
        I take it you didn't see the early Tesla part. The Tesla Roadster part was balanced, it showed the negative and postive sides of the car. The Clarity review was basically all based on the PR from hydrogen, basically a puff piece, no mention of negatives and with dubious science (scraping off hydrogen?) This is why a lot of people who know anything about the negative sides of hydrogen got pissed off. Andrew's not really comparing hydrogen to the petrol side, but rather likely to the EV side.
        • 5 Months Ago
        That they make fun of the Prius design (being ugly) and they should carry that criticism over to the the FCX because they look almost the same.
        • 5 Months Ago
        Jon wrote: "(...) an electric battery and hydrogen fuel cell are really the same thing. (...) (even in efficiency and sources for generation)."


        -ah... except that in BOTH cases, the vehicle will be driven by an electric motor. Once you get the hydrogen out of the storage tank, you still have to convert it to electricity. That's one of the places were you lose your efficiency.
        • 5 Months Ago
        @ANDREW:

        I guess time will tell. But regardless of who does it, anyone who dismissed a technology that can truly change our energy source and be infinitely abundant is out of their mind for at least not trying.

        And my point was that infrastructure costs should not be a factor in developing a technology.
        mmstowes
        • 5 Months Ago
        The Prius copies the first gen Insight and the CR-X. Aside from Toyota teat suckling, what's your point?
        • 5 Months Ago
        @ANDREW:

        Your point about infrastructure is pointless. If you want to move ahead into the future, you WILL HAVE TO invest in the new technology and infrastructure. There was also no infrastructure for gasoline either...but over time, because money was to be made, the infrastructure came. Because of the money made and greed inherent, there didn't seem to be a problem spending BILLIONS on making highways, freeways, and fuel stations in the past did it? So why complain now? Particularly NOW when we NEED the change, not just want it?

        As far as all this whining about creating hydrogen...do you even realize what it takes to get crude oil? The damage it causes to the environment and ocean life JUST to find it?

        Some of you don't seem to think ahead....you insist on comparing new technology in its infancy to old technology that has been around for a long time. There will never be progress if that is the way people think.
        • 5 Months Ago
        Noz, A few points for clarification. First the point about infrastructure is that if we were to move to a fully electric car you can buy your infrastructure for $15 at your local home depot or even splurge on a $30 cord if your really feel its necessary. I do believe we have to move to alternative energy and I don't advocate for the status quo at all, I am advocating for the electric car and the plug in hybrid. If hydrogen is the better electricity carrier then we should do it but there are so many obstacles in the way that electric cars seem like the natural choice.

        If competing tech (electric car) isn't progressing faster then we should move to hydrogen but that is obviously not the case because battery costs are coming down so much and batteries are improve to where eventually in the near future we will be able to "recharge" in 15-30 minutes.
        • 5 Months Ago
        True, hydrogen, like electricity, requires some method for production... this might be coal, oil, or gas based. Or, it might be wind, solar, or hydroelectric based. That part is really up to us.

        The thing that gets me is... an electric battery and hydrogen fuel cell are really the same thing. Its just that you recharge an electric battery with current (electrons, or lack of them), and you recharge a hydrogen battery (fuel cell) with physical hydrogen (electrons that happen to have some other atomic matter with them in the form of an atom... but really the same thing). Other than that, they are very much the same thing (even in efficiency and sources for generation), only that with hydrogen, you can refill very fast and therefore use it for cross country trips.

        I would imagine a 'hybrid' of hydrogen fuel cells and electric batteries is the most likely outcome. Fact is, electricity will most likely still be cheaper for some time, so having a 'plug-in' hybrid that does the first 40-80 miles on pure electric, then goes over to hydro seems the most likely option. This way, there is no gas generator like with a Volt/PHEV, as the electric motor works with both hydro and the battery.

        It is speculated that in the long term, it will cost us about 1 trillion in infrastructure to convert to hydrogen. Compared to the many decades that we have been sending billions a day overseas, this is a drop in the bucket. Its alot, but in the end, a wind and solar based (perhaps home solar charging) system will provide an endless supply of fuel after it is set up. So it might cost alot to get started, but in the end, we will end up with a constant free source of energy. Hard to put a price on that...
        • 5 Months Ago
        @ JAKE:

        I never remarked about the show's content. I would venture to suggest that whatever unanswered questions you have about a review regarding anything really, you would take the initiative and find out on your own.

        The show merely increased exposure of a car to thousands of people who's heads are otherwise stuck up Jeremy Clarkson's stupid arse.

      • 6 Years Ago
      Thats not totally correct... rather, not even close it turns out.

      Ill save the electric vehicle commentary for later, but I have seen the 'white papers' that honda has released which show their 'fuel cell recharge stations'. They are 100% solar. Pretty much a 'solar field' with a drive up self-serve refill station facing the street. So they did have that figured out as well. Its just a matter of if they do it or not.

      Battery cars though... just imagine the future they could hold...

      -Hot swap batteries. Many heavy equipment makers have ways of swapping out the lead-acid batteries in their vehicles on the fly... like a wireless mouse or other smaller device. Your battery cell could be modular, so you could pull up to a station, drop off your spent cells, and pick up another one... much like how you 'swap out' your propane tank at the 'Depot. This would also mean that the heaviest part of an electric vehicle could be reduced depending on the intended driving range. If you only plan on driving 40 miles, then 90% of your 400 mile battery pack could be left at home, and the remaining 10% would have, say... 1000 pounds less to haul around which could mean 50 or 60 miles. Or heck, leave in 25% of that 400 mile pack.... thats 100 miles, but in a vehicle that is 700 lbs lighter.

      As batteries get smaller and lighter, this should be less and less of an issue anyways. Once safe-cell nano-style batteries are mass made and improved, there is no reason why we shouldnt see 400 mile per charge electric cars with battery packs that are only a few hundred pounds and can be charged in 10 minutes.

      Me, Im all up on a PHEV for now. I only go about 5 miles to work every day, and most places I need to go are on the way home... so a PHEV would be a 100% electric vehicle for me. If it has an 80 mile range (plug in at both ends of a 40 mile trip), that would cover just about everything I do... trips to the mall across town even. I would be 100% electric. So I look forward to these 'toys' coming out. Chances are, I would never even use the gas generator engine at all on a Prius/Fusion/Volt plug-in.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Check out all the great models they have to offer before driving over here at http://www.hillsidehonda.com.
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