While Toyota took out the Tokachi 24-Hour Race in 2007 with a Supra HV-R hybrid race car featuring a quick-charging supercapacitor-based regenerative braking system, battery storage has so far been the norm for these systems in production vehicles. Now Mazda is charging things up with its new “i-ELOOP” system intended for internal combustion engine-powered vehicles. The i-ELOOP is billed as the world’s first passenger vehicle regenerative braking system that uses a capacitor in place of rechargeable batteries to temporarily store energy captured from braking.
Regenerative braking systems used in most current hybrid and electric vehicles convert a vehicle’s kinetic energy as it decelerates into electricity, which is used to recharge a battery that powers an electric motor. In contrast, Mazda’s new “i-ELOOP” (Intelligent Energy Loop) system is designed to be used in internal combustion engine-powered cars with the energy captured used to power the climate control, audio system and other electrical components. This gives the system the advantage of not requiring a dedicated electric motor or battery.
Mazda claims the i-ELOOP system improves the fuel economy of a vehicle by around 10 percent under real-world driving conditions with frequent acceleration and braking.