Hydrogen Fuel Cell Cars are the Stars at L.A. Auto Show; But What About Autonomous Cars?

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The LA Auto Show has arrived in town, but does it have the buzz it once did? As Angelenos trade in cars for bikes, buses and trains, we’ll look at the changing nature of mobility in the capital of the automobile. Jerry Hirsch is auto industry reporter for the Los Angeles Times and says that while the auto industry is having trouble keeping Millenials excited by cars, the L.A. Auto Show certainly has buzz, especially now that it serves as the showcase for clean energy cars.

And this year, he says, things are really heating up with the appearance on the show floor of viable hydrogen fuel cell cars, by Honda (concept car show above), Toyota and Hyundai. Hear him explain this technology, and discuss its pros — clean, safe, long range — and cons — too few fueling stations, high cost.

Hydrogen fuel cell cars may be becoming a reality but the car story that’s really picking up steam is the so-called autonomous vehicle. You’ll see hints of this technology in new vehicle-to-vehicle communication features at the Auto show. But just how far are we from fully fledged self-driving cars? The LA Times Jerry Hirsch and fellow auto writer David Undercoffler offer up their perspective. It’s a long time, they say, before you’ll be able to get in the car and tell it to drive you to Ralphs, or party all night and have the robo-car drive you home. For now the technology is limited to bits and pieces of car-to-car communication and safety features and has a long way to go — for technical as well as legal reasons. Besides, they ask, would you really want your car to drive you?

Read more articles about the auto show by Jerry Hirsch and David Undercoffler.

And read this New York Times report on the Japanese plan to transport VIPs in autonomous cars at the Tokyo games in 2020.

NOTE: In the segment on hydrogen fuel cell cars, Jerry Hirsch talks about Elon Musk’s contention that hydrogen is dangerous because it is a volatile space fuel. After taping the segment, news broke that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration had announced a formal safety probe of Musk’s own Tesla Model S, following fires in two of its US-based cars.  In the same week, Fortune magazine named Musk its Businessperson of the year.