Call it “sustainable Zoom-Zoom.” Mazda has turned the advertising slogan, “Zoom-Zoom,” into more than just a cliché. It’s become the design and performance theme for its product lineup. But can it survive the transition to more environmentally-friendly powertrain technology?
That’s the question the automaker hoped to address as it laid out plans for this year’s Tokyo Motor Show. The avant garde Taiki concept sports car takes the green theme to a design extreme, while the Premacy HRE Hybrid shows a more practical side to the automaker’s thinking.
The show car starts out with a conventional Premacy (Mazda5) minivan, but rather than using an everyday piston engine, Mazda engineers substituted a hydrogen-powered rotary engine, or HRE. And instead of directly driving the van’s wheels, that rotary runs an onboard generator. Its energy, in turn, is wired into an advanced, lithium-ion battery pack that’s used to power a set of electric motors.
This so-called serial hybrid approach is similar in concept to the Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid that made a splash at the Detroit Motor Show, last January, though Mazda isn’t saying whether it would provide enough batteries to run the Premacy HRE in pure electric mode.
“The rotary engine is the most suitable for the use of hydrogen,” explained Hirotaka Kanazawa, Mazda’s director of technical development. While fuel-cell advocates might beg to differ, there are clearly some advantages to the rotary, if hydrogen is being used as a combustible fuel. Since the rotary operates at lower temperatures than a piston engine, for one thing, it is less likely to produce smog-causing NOx as an unintended by-product of combustion.
The hybrid design, meanwhile, doubles the range of the hydrogen rotary system, to 200 km, or 125 miles, noted Mazda CEO Hisakazu Imaki.
Mazda intends to begin a limited leasing program, to get real-world experience with the Premacy HRE, next year.
2007 Tokyo Motor Show Coverage by TCC Team (10/14/2007)
Ready for wild and weird?
2007 Mazda Taiki Concept by Marty Padgett (10/24/2007)
Following the winds of Nagare, Mazda says.
We Drive Mazda’s 2 by Richard Yarrow (10/12/2007)
A supermini with a Fiesta in mind.