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.