But we think there are broader plans for this system.
The Mazda MX-5 Miata is the darling of the automotive world. It's horribly impractical, slow, and small, but these drawbacks are part of the reason people love it. Its size and impracticality make it easy to place and free you of unnecessary and heavy features, while its lack of power means more time working your way up and down the rev range, having fun. Thankfully, it seems that it will be keeping its distance from full electrification, likely using Skyactiv-X technology to keep it clean. However, that doesn't mean that it won't be hybridized, and a new patent suggests that Mazda is doing its best to ensure that the addition of mild electrification won't severely impact handling.
In the documentation filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) in March 2019 and published in December of last year, Mazda envisions a relatively small battery pack as it sees large battery packs and full-scale electrification as "a vicious cycle" of adding more power to cope with more weight, which then requires bigger batteries thus adding to the weight issue again. So instead of a large battery, Mazda's patent details a bank of capacitors (these seem to be critical to Mazda's future EV plans), and two in-wheel electric motors of 17 kilowatts each. A 25-kW electric motor on the transmission is also shown. The 3.5-kWh battery pack would be mounted somewhere in the middle of the car, and the front-mounted engine would send power to the rear wheels while the fronts would be powered by those electric motors, thus indicating all-wheel drive.
If this is indeed for the next generation of Miata (likely to be called NG, since the NE and NF designations refer to the MX-5-based Fiat 124) that will replace the current ND model, then it would mark a radical change for the way the Miata is to behave. Fortunately, we don't actually believe this will go to the MX-5. Yes, the patent repeatedly refers to saving as much weight and space as possible, and supercapacitors are quick to charge and discharge energy (a clearly beneficial characteristic for a sports car), but part of the reason that the Miata has survived so long is its simplicity and fun-to-chuck nature. This patent only seems to allow an automatic gearbox too, so we'd bet that, although the MX-5 will certainly be electrified at some point, this won't be how.
This tech would fit and is much more likely in Mazda's oncoming onslaught of SUVs, where the cleanest engines possible are to be paired with the lightest hybrid systems possible, thus making for fun-to-drive, capable, and inexpensive family cars.
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