The Mazda Ibuki hybrid
car is a 2-seater concept car that was unveiled in the
2003 Tokyo Auto Show. The Ibuki hybrid gives a glimpse
into what may become a future MX-5 Miata hybrid model.
Since the Miata is known
as the world's best-selling two-seat roadster, it makes
sense that the innovations from the Ibuki be adapted to
this vehicle. It is most likely that the Ibuki itself
will never see the light of a showroom floor.
Nevertheless, the Mazda Ibuki (its name means 'to invigorate')
offers some exciting innovations that will hopefully be used
in future production models. For one, unlike its Renesis
counterpart (a rotary hydrogen-gasoline hybrid), the Ibuki is
a mid-engine gasoline-electric hybrid that combines a 1.6-liter
DOHC four-cylinder engine (177 hp) to an electric motor and
a six-speed manual transmission with reinforced synchronizers
to assure shift quality. The internal combustion gasoline engine
shuts down when stationary, saving fuel and emissions. At low
engine speeds, the electric hybrid motor provides torque assistance
to boost acceleration from a standing start.
The Ibuki hybrid sports 18-inch magnesium alloy wheels
fitted with run-flat tires. The Mazda concept hybrid also
uses regenerative braking to recharge the batteries so the
car never has to be plugged in.
The Ibuki is truly a lightweight vehicle as the fenders,
hood, rear floor panel, and door outer panels are all made
of lightweight reinforced plastic. The engine frame and
drive shaft are both made out of carbon fiber, which further
reduces the overall weight. The Ibuki engineers developed
the body frame with a twin backbone body structure that
includes high rigidity. This helps keep the car solid while
reducing overall weight.
As far as safety is concerned, the Ibuki incorporates a
sensor that activates a four-point rollover bar in the event
of a rollover accident. The car is also equipped with LED
headlamps that improve visibility.
According to Truman Pollard, chief designer of Mazda North
American Operations, "The aim of this concept was to
further refine the fun-to-drive spirit that can be derived
from a lightweight, convertible sports car. At the same
time, the design team has worked to advance the true roadster
identity and further refine the levels of comfort and safety
in a vehicle with the top down."
With increased competition fueled by high demand for hybrid
cars, it is only a matter of time until the Ibuki to Miata
transition takes place. Will you be ready?