Honda FCX concept fuel cell car in depth, Pt. 3 - Construction and interior

(Editor's Note: don't miss Parts One and Two of this series)

The body structure of the Honda FCX concept is a combination of a steel lower body structure mated to a carbon-fiber composite upper structure. The production version will switch to an all steel structure to help keep costs down and simplify manufacturing. The steeply raked windshield inevitably means a really long dash board, and the risk of nasty reflections. On a sunny autumn day at Laguna Seca, reflections didn't pose a problem on the concept, hopefully this will be carried over to the production version.

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(Continued after the jump)

The dashboard design uses a double deck design similar to the new Civic. The upper part houses a digital speedometer. The lower section visible through the steering wheel has a graphical display comprised of concentric rings of information. In the center is a glowing circle that appears small at idle but steadily grows and changes from blue to yellow as the load on the fuel cell increases. The right hand side shows the fuel level gauge. Click below, to see a short video of the gauge in action.

On the left is the energy gauge. As you press the accelerator, you draw energy from the cell and the battery and the bars grow clockwise around the gauge. As you back off, the gauge returns to the 9 o'clock position and then beyond counter-clockwise into the yellow zone. This region indicates that you're charging the battery via regenerative braking. Finally, to the right of the main gauge cluster is the gear indicator. The actual shifter is a paddle thats mounted to the dash. To put the car in drive, you step on the brake, pull the paddle toward you and down and the transaxle shifts into drive. Press the park button below the paddle and you're done.

One other handy feature of a car that at this time still has very limited refueling options is the built in navigation system. Built in to the center of dashboard is the nav screen. Like in the current FCX, the system will show you the location of hydrogen filling stations and give you directions to the nearest one when you need fuel. It sure beats driving around aimlessly looking for a place to fill up.

The rest of the interior is very stylish and comfortable. The seats are well shaped and a pleasure to sit in with lots of legroom and headroom even in the back. Due to the coupe-like roof-line, taller passengers have to duck their heads a bit, but once inside they have plenty of room. The rear seats are contoured for two passengers. All the seats and parts of the door panels, tunnel and various other surfaces are upholstered in Honda's new Bio-Fabric that you can read about our previous post. Overall, the level of fit and finish and the appearance is well up the standards of a top of the line Acura, and it would be easy to picture the new FCX as the next step from the RL. Up next in part four, the FCX driving experience.

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