Mazda Starts Production of Mazda6 With i-ELOOP

Last Thursday Mazda Motor Corporation held a ceremony to commemorate the start of production of the new Mazda6 (known as Atenza in Japan), fully redesigned for the first time in five years.

The ceremony took place at the company’s Hofu Plant No. 2, in the Yamaguchi prefecture. The first vehicle to come off the line was a Mazda6 (non-hybrid) wagon built to European specifications and powered by the SKYACTIV-G 2.0 gasoline engine.

The new Mazda6 will be introduced to Europe and Japan before the end of 2012, followed by other markets starting with the U..S at the beginning of 2013. Mazda is planning to produce approximately 120,000 units of the Mazda6 per year at the Hofu Plant.

The all-new Mazda6 is the first model to be equipped with Mazda’s brake energy regeneration system, which Mazda names i-ELOOP.

Mazda’s regenerative braking system is unique for now on the market because it uses a capacitor, which is an electrical component that temporarily stores large volumes of electricity. Compared to batteries, capacitors can be charged and discharged rapidly and are resistant to deterioration through prolonged use.

i-ELOOP converts the vehicle’s kinetic energy into electricity as it decelerates, and uses the electricity to power the climate control, audio system and numerous other electrical components.

Regenerative braking systems in hybrid vehicles generally use a large electric motor and dedicated battery. In the non-hybrid Mazda’s case, its system does not have a dedicated electric motor and battery.

Mazda developed its regenerative braking system so that it rapidly recovers a large amount of electricity every time the vehicle decelerates.

i-ELOOP features a 12-25V variable voltage alternator, a low-resistance electric double layer capacitor and a DC/DC converter. i-ELOOP starts to recover kinetic energy the moment the driver lifts off the accelerator pedal and the vehicle begins to decelerate.

According to Mazda, the variable voltage alternator generates electricity at up to 25 volts before sending it to the Electric Double Layer Capacitor (EDLC) for storage. The capacitor, which has been specially developed for use in a vehicle, can be fully charged in seconds.

The DC/DC converter steps down the electricity from 25 volts to 12 volts before it is distributed directly to the vehicle’s electrical components. The system also charges the vehicle battery as necessary. i-ELOOP operates whenever the vehicle decelerates, reducing the need for the engine to burn extra fuel to generate electricity. As a result, in “stop-and-go” driving conditions, fuel economy improves by approximately 10 percent according to Mazda.

The name i-ELOOP is an adaptation of “Intelligent Energy Loop” and represents Mazda’s intention to cycle energy in an intelligent way.

i-ELOOP also works in conjunction with Mazda’s i-stop idling stop technology to extend the period that the engine can be shut off.


  • Van

    For years now, folks have been saying a combination of capacitors to accept the rapid flow of energy from braking in combination with Lithium Batteries that can accept and dole out energy at a much slower pace will be in our future. Perhaps this is a step in that direction.

  • perfectapproach

    Why??? What is the point of introducing such a complex storage-regeneration system for a car that doesn’t use electrical power for anything other than what a standard alternator can already provide power for? Does reducing the load on the alternator really save that much gasoline? I think not, unless climate control is all-electric.

    Mazda, generating electrical power to run the electrical systems on a car is a fairly benign task for an engine, compared to things like, you know, pushing the car. Way to miss the point.

    Now, if you can develop an electric motor (I hear that GE has developed a nice one) and a battery (which A123 has done quite well, although they’re on the edge of bankruptcy) and slap them both into your Mazda 6, and maybe allow for a few all-electric miles before the gas engine kicks in, I’ll be impressed. Until then, you’ve just got a severely obfuscated alternator.

    Seriously, who thought using regenerative braking to power the radio was a good idea??

  • hybridhybrid

    just another GM’s malibu eco cheap hybrid system, maybe worse…

    interested to look at the price

  • Modern Marvel Fan

    Why don’t they list the “energy” recovered and stored by the capacitor? I bet it is so small and it is almost pointless. How much will this cost? For 10% increase in MPG?

  • Van

    Apparently most posters will not be happy unless Mazda re-badges the system as “El Loopie” :)

  • Greg

    Wow, talk about missing the point. Do you own an AC? What does it do to your electric bill in the summer? On a very hot day, my AC pulls 10x as much as the rest of my home combined. There are some serious electrical draws in a car, so the radio really isn’t the point.

    Carmakers switched to electric fans because they make a difference for efficiency. Similarly, they are switching to electric power steering and electric everything else. That increases the drag from an alternator, so free the engine from it will make measurable improvements in efficiency (just like we’ve already seen with fans, etc.).

    Another reason for the tech is to save your car’s battery. Idle-stop features are being added to cars to save fuel, but that puts a ton of wear-and-tear on the battery since the engine isn’t running to drive the alternator. Using regenerative braking to power HVAC & everything else when the engine is off will make the car more reliable in addition to more efficient.

    In the big picture, Mazda is building a foundation of basic technologies like building blocks that can be dropped into more advanced, electrified cars. They started with ICEs because 30 yrs from now, 90%+ of cars will still depend on them, and if you want an efficient hybrid, you have to start with an efficient engine. Now, they are moving into electrified systems (power steering, regenerative braking, etc.). The i-ELOOP system can be put in a hybrid very easily and will have the same benefits (less battery wear-and-tear, lighter weight, etc.). It also is a stepping stone to combined capacitor+battery EV system where the capacitor handles fast recharging and high-frequency charge/discharge cycles making the battery last longer and the whole car weigh less.

    But hey, why worry about all that when you can just add a motor at additional cost & weight and a big, heavy, expensive battery?

  • perfectapproach

    “Do you own an AC? What does it do to your electric bill in the summer? On a very hot day, my AC pulls 10x as much as the rest of my home combined. There are some serious electrical draws in a car, so the radio really isn’t the point.”

    Automotive A/C isn’t electrically powered. It’s belt-driven, directly from engine rotation. The compressor in your home IS electrically driven, as is the compressor in your refrigerator. So try again.

    “Carmakers switched to electric fans because they make a difference for efficiency. Similarly, they are switching to electric power steering and electric everything else. That increases the drag from an alternator, so free the engine from it will make measurable improvements in efficiency (just like we’ve already seen with fans, etc.).”

    Maybe. But nothing was said about anything special that was powered by the new electrical system other than what is already powered by an alternator. I don’t see anything in the article about electric power steering. Try again.

    “Another reason for the tech is to save your car’s battery. Idle-stop features are being added to cars to save fuel, but that puts a ton of wear-and-tear on the battery since the engine isn’t running to drive the alternator. Using regenerative braking to power HVAC & everything else when the engine is off will make the car more reliable in addition to more efficient.”

    Idle-stop has not been incorporated into the car in the article. iELOOP would be a very good system to implement with Stop-Start, but for some reason, Mazda didn’t. Try again.

    “In the big picture, Mazda is building a foundation of basic technologies like building blocks that can be dropped into more advanced, electrified cars. They started with ICEs because 30 yrs from now, 90%+ of cars will still depend on them, and if you want an efficient hybrid, you have to start with an efficient engine. Now, they are moving into electrified systems (power steering, regenerative braking, etc.). The i-ELOOP system can be put in a hybrid very easily and will have the same benefits (less battery wear-and-tear, lighter weight, etc.). It also is a stepping stone to combined capacitor+battery EV system where the capacitor handles fast recharging and high-frequency charge/discharge cycles making the battery last longer and the whole car weigh less.

    But hey, why worry about all that when you can just add a motor at additional cost & weight and a big, heavy, expensive battery?”

    In one sentence, you’re touting capacitor+battery technology as a good thing, and in the next, you’re using the words “big, heavy, expensive battery” like it’s a bad thing? Hmmm… now I just smell argument for the sake of argument. Also, you mentioned hybrids like they’re a good thing in one paragraph, and then “add a motor at additional cost & weight” like it’s a bad thing in the next.

    You haven’t taught me anything, and you haven’t convinced me I’ve missed the point. Try again.

  • jmx1022

    @perfectapproach, I think you lost this one. let it go. FYI, Mazda is developing a full hybrid version of the Mazda6. Using regenerative braking energy to free up the load on the engine (increase fuel efficiency) is a step in the right direction.

  • perfectapproach

    What load??? As it is being implemented in the Mazda 6 right now, what load is the new regenerative braking system “relieving?”

    What am I not understanding? What am I missing? Did Mazda put a new electrical component in the Mazda 6 that devours electrical power? A big electric motor? Electric power steering? Electric A/C compressor? Anything? What load is the new regenerative braking system offsetting?? If it’s a normal alternator load, it’s really not much of a load, especially considering the i-ELOOP system STILL HAS AN ALTERNATOR. The article only mentions that i-ELOOP can be used with start-stop (called i-Stop). But i-Stop isn’t implemented in the Mazda 6!!

    Like I’ve already said several times before, I could understand if it were for a new hybrid drive system, or a start-stop system, or some other nifty device that needs high amounts of power that would strain a standard lead-acid battery. But as it is now, it’s not for anything. i-ELOOP is being installed into a car that doesn’t have any high-amperage devices. Why install it in a car that doesn’t need it?

  • Buger

    @perfectapproach, if you haven’t figured it out by now, one of the main things about this stage of the Mazda approach is saving weight/cost. You ask why don’t Mazda go full hybrid and add electric engines and a123 batteries but Mazda is not taking that step yet whether you can comprehend it or not. :)

    While adding electric motors and large batteries to power them is one way of drastically increasing city fuel economy, they add costs (thouands of $) and weight (hundreds of lbs). In the US, the goverment has decided to subsidize the costs but citizens still pay them in taxes/deficits. I think you will agree that battery tech is improving very nicely (smaller, cheaper although with even more government funding) and I believe that Mazda has their phased approach to jump in later on as battery/hybrid tech becomes even more mature.

    I did a simple search on google for i-eloop which may help explain things for you a little bit. It basically seems to relieve the alternator load on the engine under acceleration as long as the capacitors have the power stored to run things like A/C, and other electrical draws.

    So basically, it would seem that it is a very low-cost solution, with little weight. The benefits for city fuel economy will be small but so will the cost/weight. If you disagree with the approach, it is fine but you could try to educate yourself when you have questions rather than asking other people to do it for you. :)

    http://www.mazda.com/mazdaspirit/env/engine/i-eloop.html
    i-ELOOP starts to recover kinetic energy the moment the driver lifts off the accelerator pedal and the vehicle begins to decelerate. The variable voltage alternator generates electricity at up to 25V for maximum efficiency before sending it to the Electric Double Layer Capacitor (EDLC) for storage. The alternator can fully charge the capacitor in just a few seconds. A DC/DC converter steps down the electricity from 25V to 12V so it can be used for the vehicle’s electrical components.

    Providing there is sufficient charge stored, all the vehicle’s electric components are powered by the capacitor and the battery, thereby removing the need for the engine to generate electricity through the alternator by burning extra fuel. The alternator is switched off when the accelerator pedal is depressed and when the i-stop idling stop system is active, and switched on only when the vehicle is decelerating. During city driving with frequent acceleration and deceleration, charging mostly recommences before the capacitor is fully discharged. Therefore, i-ELOOP can provide nearly all of the vehicle’s electricity requirement. This combination of minimizing the amount of fuel needed for electricity generation and efficiently recovering, storing and reusing energy enables Mazda to deliver significantly improved fuel economy.