By on August 9, 2012

Mark Stevenson steadfastly remains on his Suzuki Death Watch. “Pfft,” says the company run by the world’s youngest octogenarian Osamu Suzuki, and brings out yet another car Americans can’t have. .

Suzuki will bring out a new version of its best selling kei car, the Wagon R. According to The Nikkei [sub], Suzuki’s new midgetmobile will upset the other midgetmobiles with a “best-in-class 28.8km per liter, up around 22% from the current version of the wagon-type minivehicle.”

In a straight line km/liter to mpg conversion (courtesy of Google,) this would translate into 70.3 mpg. Of course, the EPA number would be totally different, but also of course, we’ll never know because the Wagon R kei will never make it to these shores.

The new Wagon R improves on its current 23.6km per liter with a better engine, a lighter body and a regenerative braking system.

“Ah, a hybrid kei,” you will say. Nope.

The regenerative braking system will send the regenerated electricity into a lithium ion battery. That juice is then used to power the vehicle’s electrical components, no power-robbing alternator needed, domo arigato gozaimasu. They call that system ENE-CHARGE. The accompanying air conditioner is called “ECO-COOL”

In July, Suzuki’s Wagon R was in place 6 of Japan’s best seller list. The tricked-out successor will be at dealer showrooms in Japan starting next month. Just be careful and don’t trip over them.

In the meantime, an informant overheard in a Hamamatsu Izakaya: “Let’s deal with the Indians first. We’ll get to that Stevenson guy in due time.”

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19 Comments on “Suzuki Shuns The Alternator, Ignores Stevenson...”


  • avatar

    Wait a moment, isn’t Wagon R an RWD? I could swear it was.

  • avatar
    Felix Hoenikker

    So how is the LiON battery re-charged without and alternator? Just regenerative braking? This could be a problem on a long highway cruise when the brakes are seldon used.

  • avatar
    Duncan

    Interesting idea. I wonder what the contingency plan is if you are operating your vehicle with minimal braking. Depending on the size of the battery, I would think a really long traffic jam, getting stuck in a snow drift and trying to stay warm, or possibly even a very long cruise at night on an open highway with no need for braking could make you wish you had an alternator.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      The vehicle just needs to be moving for them to get energy to charge the battery it does not have to be only when braking. This is nothing new, some street rodders have been moving their alternator drive to the drive train for at least 30 years to produce a cleaner appearance under hood.

  • avatar
    indyb6

    Wagon R still gets a lot of love in India. I used to love that car too :)
    I still remember the commercial from 7-8 years ago:

    “Its a Wagon
    Its a Car
    Its the Maruti Wagon R”

  • avatar
    Scoutdude

    Um….So how are they converting that regen braking into electrons? Oh yeah with an alternator/generator. So no they aren’t eliminating it just moving it’s drive from being directly driven from the engine.

    • 0 avatar
      Duncan

      I think you’re focusing on the word “alternator” and missing the point here. The design removes an always on alternator that is a constant drain on the ICE and constant power source to the vehicle electrical system and instead have a vehicle electrical system that can operate with short duration high intensity charge cycles which are generated through regenerative braking.

      Sure, regenerative braking still relies on a motor/generator, no magic has been introduced, but the plan to increase fuel economy is to remove the constant parasitic load and instead harvest waste/braking energy for the vehicle electronics.

  • avatar
    philadlj

    Another reason why the “Suzuki Death Watch” series should be more accurately titled “AMERICAN Suzuki Death Watch”…though even that will be a long death watch, as American Suzuki operations can and probably will continue coasting along indefinitely.

    • 0 avatar

      Agreed, getting quite sick of the “Suzuki Death Watch” series, it makes TTAC seem very parochial and that USA IS the world. The fact that Suzuki is doing very well in other markets, and maybe Suzuki is look at the real long term that America is/will be a shrinking market and doesn’t want to take part in it. Instead focusing on the developing world markets. There are predictions that the amount of cars in the world will double in the next 10 years, that growth is not going to be in the US.

  • avatar
    icemilkcoffee

    And how much would that lithium battery add to teh price? Why don’t they just do an idle-stop like most other mild hybrids? In Japan’s stop and go traffic that alone would save a lot of gas.

    • 0 avatar
      Duncan

      It will be interesting to see what they deem an appropriate size for the battery. I would think a $500 battery/ultracapacitor system would probably be sufficient.

      I don’t particularly like the idle-stop idea and would prefer something like this for a city car. Regenerative braking has the added advantage of reduced brake wear, but I suppose on a car this small, brake pads probably don’t break the bank.

  • avatar
    Idemmu

    If someone could figure out how to attach an energy convertor to the wheel hubs of a car, then we will have battery regeneration from 4 different sources as long as the car is moving. 4 convertors, 4 batteries, no worries.

  • avatar
    felix

    I watched the entire video. While my Japanese is a bit rusty, it is pretty clear that the alternator hasn’t gone anywhere. It’s remains connected to the engine the whole time. The key difference is that the alternator is only energized on braking or overrun to recharge the batteries. The novel part is the use of a lithium-ion battery that can accept a high charging current as an additional battery. Otherwise it’s not particularly different from other manufacturers’ versions of the same thing. Myself I think the use of an ultracapacitor like what Mazda is doing is a better idea.

  • avatar
    Idemmu

    I guess it’s a generator. I just used the word convertor because kinetic energy from the wheels will be converted to electricity.

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