Who said regenerative braking systems were just for electric cars? Certainly not Mazda. The Japanese carmaker's cooked up a new regen system it reckons can improve fuel economy in petrol cars by around 10 per cent.
The system, known as i-ELOOP, works in a similar way to the regenerative braking systems commonly found in cars such as the Nissan Leaf. It converts a car's kinetic energy into electricity as it decelerates before using this electricity to power the climate control, audio system and other electrical components inside the vehicle.
i-ELOOP, which stands for Intelligent Energy Loop, uses a variable voltage alternator, a low-resistance capacitor and a DC/DC convertor to start recovering kinetic energy the moment the driver lifts off the accelerator pedal.
The alternator generates electricity at up to 25V, before sending it to the capacitor for storage. The DC/DC convertor then steps down the voltage from 25V to 12V before it's distributed to the car's electrical gubbins.
One of i-ELOOP's key benefits is the fact it allows Mazda's i-stop stop-start technology to operate more often than it would otherwise be able to (stop-start systems are notorious for only working within a very small window of operation). This allows a car fitted with i-ELOOP to use its engine less, which contributes to an increase in fuel economy.
i-ELOOP will work in conjunction with i-stop, as well as Mazda's SkyActiv platform, which incorporates engine, transmission, body and chassis designs that are intended to make the company's cars more efficient.
i-ELOOP will get its first airing in at the forthcoming Tokyo Motor Show in the Mazda Takeri concept car.