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Auto Show:  2011 Tokyo Auto Show

Honda AC-X - Tokyo Auto Show

author photo by Nick Palermo December 2011
  • A plug-in hybrid sedan that glows
  • Automated driving mode for long trips
  • Innovative dynamic body

With DVD entertainment systems, luxurious seating with massage and Wi-Fi connections, modern cars truly offer a kind of living room on wheels feel. Drivers still have to drive, though. And the day when they too can relax may seem a long way off. But automated driving systems have come a long way in the past few years, and Honda's AC-X hybrid concept reveals how future vehicles might accommodate passengers when fully automated driving becomes a reality.

The AC-X, which made its world premier at the Tokyo Motor Show, is a plug-in hybrid electric sedan that includes Automatic-Drive Mode, allowing the driver to comfortably relax along with other passengers, and Engine-Drive Mode for direct driver control. In the automated mode, both the interior and exterior of the vehicle adapt for efficiency and comfort.

Inside, the controls, consisting here of two levers in place of a steering wheel, retract into the dash, freeing space for the driver. The driver's seat reclines, and an ottoman extends, allowing relaxation and comfort typically reserved only for passengers. The flip of a switch returns control to the driver.

The automated mode transforms the exterior of the AC-X, too, thanks to a dynamic body with a variable front bumper, side skirts and rear diffuser. These parts adjust their position to optimize aerodynamics, aided by unique, static wheel diffusers to offer very low drag and maximize energy savings.

The overall shape of the AC-X is similar to that of Honda's hydrogen-powered FCX Clarity. But the new concept departs with a bold, illuminated character line and an aggressive front fascia dominated by a single horizontal element, also illuminated. In fact, the AC-X is awash in LED glow. Edges and surfaces inside and out are lit in blue.

Honda says the automated driving mode gives drivers the freedom to enjoy driving in a new way. If one can enjoy driving by not driving, an automated vehicle like the AC-X concept offers a new kind of driving pleasure. Until then, drivers seeking this kind of relaxed environment will find it only in the passenger seats.

What it means to you:

Fully automated driving seems far-fetched, but the technology is on the horizon. The AC-X shows how a vehicle so equipped may allow the driver to relax.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
Honda AC-X - Tokyo Auto Show - Autotrader