Auto Tech

Check out Honda's Clarity Fuel Cell vehicle in person at the Los Angeles Auto Show

The automaker's latest hydrogen car makes its North American debut next week.

The Clarity shares a few styling cues with the all-new 2016 Honda Civic, which will also be on display in LA.

Honda

For those interested in the cutting edge of vehicle technology, you'd be wise to hit up the Los Angeles Auto Show this month. Not only will you see a wide variety of electric vehicles, but you'll find one that's powered not by a plug, but by hydrogen. Better yet, it's real, and it's actually heading to production in the United States.

The Honda Clarity Fuel Cell uses compressed hydrogen gas to juice up the lithium ion battery that powers the car's electric motors. Oxygen from outside air enters the fuel cell, where it mixes with hydrogen to create electricity. The only byproduct is water, and while engineers say it's potable, it's still a little early to start drinking from tailpipes.

Los Angeles is important to Honda's fuel-cell plans in two different ways. First, Honda debuted its FCX Clarity hydrogen car at the same auto show back in 2007. LA is also smack-dab in the middle of California, the sole state to have some semblance of a hydrogen infrastructure at the moment. (The Northeast US is working on one as well, but it's not ready yet.)

The Clarity Fuel Cell uses a tweaked version of the FCX Clarity's drivetrain. Output is bumped up to 174 horsepower and 221 pound-feet of torque. That power reaches the front wheels by way of a direct connection between the electric motor and the wheels -- no transmission necessary. Using two hydrogen tanks mounted in the rear, the Clarity should be able to reach more than 400 miles on a single tank, and fill-ups take a quick three minutes apiece.

The Clarity Fuel Cell arrives in Japanese showrooms in March 2016, with US, UK and other markets to follow. Honda does not have a press conference scheduled for the LA Auto Show, as the Clarity was just unveiled at the Tokyo Motor Show in October. The 2016 Civic will be on display, as well.