(from Mazda Press
Release) MAZDA FURAI CONCEPT: THE EMBODIMENT OF ZOOM-ZOOM
DETROIT As the latest in Mazdas award-winning and highly
acclaimed series of Nagare concept cars, the Furai P2 concept
vehicle celebrates 40 years of rotary engine and international
motorsports heritage with the raciest interpretation of NAGARE
design language to-date.
NAGARE: (pronounced na-ga-reh), Japanese for flow and the
embodiment of motion
FURAI: (pronounced foo-rye), Japanese for sound of the wind
Furai is the sort of car that could only come from a company that
incorporates the Soul of a Sports Car into everything it builds,
but with an eye toward the future and the environment through the
use of renewable fuels. Driving toward sustainability, Furai was
initially tuned to operate on 100 percent ethanol fuel, the first
time a racing three-rotor rotary engine has been fueled by ethanol.
Research continues in earnest with partner BP into other renewable
and future fuels, including ethanol gasoline blends like E10.
On any given weekend, there are more Mazdas and Mazda-powered cars
road-raced in North America than any other brand of car. This is
because every Mazda sedan, coupe and sports car really is developed
with the highest possible dose of the companys trademark Zoom-Zoom
truly the Emotion of Motion.
However, Zoom-Zoom is more than simply vehicle performance. The look
and style that is Zoom-Zoom can best be seen in previous NAGARE-based
efforts, including the Mazda Nagare concept that debuted at Los
Angeles in 2006; Mazda Ryuga, which was first shown a year ago in
Detroit; Mazda Hakaze, which appeared in Geneva last year; and Mazda
Taiki, the star of the 2007 Tokyo Motor Show.
Nagare is how Mazdas future models will sustain the Zoom-Zoom
spirit by exhibiting their strong affinity for motion.
Manufacturers commonly showcase design studies with little or no
intention of actually using the theme presented. Mazdas approach is
the opposite: All of the Nagare concepts, including Furai, help
evolve this evocative surface language for future use. Every vehicle
Mazda sells embodies the soul of a sports car to achieve a true
Zoom-Zoom dynamic character. Nagare is how this celebration of
motion will be portrayed on interior and exterior surfaces in future
models. Instead of form following function, the two merge as one.
Franz von Holzhausen, Mazda North American Operations (MNAO)
Director of Design and the person who lead the team that created the
Furai, explains the concept behind the concept, We were looking for
a way to bridge the gap between Mazda Motorsports and the production
vehicles in our lineup. The mindsets of road-car and racing car fans
are quite different, so the purpose of Furai is to find a meeting
point for these disparate interests. He continued, Furai achieves
this by purposely blurring boundaries that have traditionally
distinguished the street from the track. Historically, there has
been a gap between single-purpose racecars and street-legal models
commonly called supercars that emulate the real racers on the
Track cars are, by their competitive nature, ill-suited for
practical highway use, as well as generally far from road-legal.
Some supercars visit the track on occasion, but they are primarily
road cars not properly equipped for racing. The aim of Furai is to
bridge this gap.
That said, Mazda neither intends to race Furai, nor is it a supercar
the company plans to build and sell in the near future. Rather,
Furai is a design study that lives between those extremes. Without
the restrictions imposed by serial production models, and with the
freedom of an autoshow environment, Mazda is using the opportunity
to evolve the companys Nagare design theme one more step closer to
Instead of mimicking racecar components and design elements in a
road car the strategy preferred by supercar manufacturers the
Mazda way was to begin this project with the real McCoy: a Courage
C65 chassis that earned its stripes during two seasons of LMP-2
endurance racing in the American Le Mans Series (ALMS). This sports
car was successfully campaigned under the MAZDASPEED Motorsports
Development banner by B-K Motorsports during the 2005 and 2006
seasons. Drivers Jamie Bach, Guy Cosmo, Elliott Forbes-Robinson, and
Raphael Matos piloted the car to one victory and a total of nine
podium finishes in 15 ALMS events. B-K finished third in
championship standings both years; Bach and Cosmo were co-Rookies of
the Year in 2005.
Anticipating future rules changes in the ALMS, we created a new
closed cockpit which would be more appropriate for a future
production model, said von Holzhausen. The major element we did
not change is the 450-horsepower RENESIS-based R20B three-rotor
rotary engine that provides Furai ample Zoom-Zoom. The ultimate
Mazda in our minds is rotary powered; as a company, we have no
intention of abandoning that valuable asset. When people think of
the very best sports cars in the world, the rotary powered Mazda
RX-7 is always on that list.
The Furai concept serves as a turning point in the Nagare
developmental process. While the four previous concept cars explored
different ways to express Mazdas emerging design philosophy and to
explore an aesthetic, this one is all about function every last
texture and detail serves some functional purpose. In essence, the
Furai creative process boiled down to guiding air over and through
the body in fruitful ways. To prove that this concept goes far
beyond static aerodynamic analysis, Mazdas design, motorsports and
R&D teams worked together to construct Furai as a 180-mph rolling
laboratory to demonstrate its functional capabilities on demand.
The basic proportions of contemporary race cars are every
designers dream, enthused von Holzhausen. Furai is less than
40-inches high but nearly 80-inches wide.
While Furai strikes an incredibly strong presence, the real beauty
of the project and its most valuable asset as a real-world
test-bed is in the details that von Holzhausen and his team
The body surface
provides ample opportunity to feature core design elements such
as aggressive headlamps and Mazdas trademark five-point grille.
The headlamp trim
pieces function as guide frames to help cancel aerodynamic lift.
just above the front wheels are relieved to serve the same end.
The air flow package
takes air moving under the front of the car and guides it inside
the body to the engine-cooling radiators.
incorporated in the side surfaces feed air to the rear brakes,
the oil cooler and the transmission cooler.
diffuser that begins rising aft of the cockpit helps draw the
volume of air flowing through the heat exchangers and engine bay
out the rear.
The Mazda design and R&D
teams worked closely with Swift Engineering to refine the
aerodynamic characteristics, assuring that Furai remains glued to
the ground at high speeds. Through its existing relationship with
Swift Engineering, forged through development of the Mazda/Cosworth-powered
Champ Car Atlantic chassis, the team used complex Computational
Fluid Dynamics (CFD) software to tune various Nagare design elements
to function at a high degree of efficiency. Drag, downforce, lift
and overall esthetics were all key considerations.
Sourced straight from the race track, the Courage carbon-composite
tub is essentially intact under the new Furai body, including the
right-side drivers seat. Instead of the stark interior typical of
race cars though, this cockpit is finished with more comfortable but
still highly functional surfaces. An electronic display screen and
shift paddles are built into the steering wheel.
In the chassis original racing configuration, the passenger seat is
filled with electronic gear, so those components were relocated
elsewhere to provide adequate space for two occupants. The
greenhouse is somewhat wider than the original cockpit to provide
adequate head and shoulder room and suitable outward visibility.
Doors attached with butterfly hinges provide a very efficient means
of entering the cockpit. In this instance, the design team followed
an approach that has proven very effective during years of endurance
One thing we learned from CFD studies is that we dont need much
rear wing to balance the down force created by the front splitter
and the Nagare features weve sculpted into the body offered von
Holzhausen. Combustion air is provided by a variation of the Turbo
Tongue device that Swift developed for Indy car use a decade ago. It
rises slightly higher than the surrounding roof surface to ingest
clean air above the boundary layer. Our final design works so well
that we applied for a joint patent with Swift. Of course, it helps
that its a real piece of art, too, and one we had to incorporate
into the design.
Irvine, Calif.-based Aria Group was responsible for creating new
composite panels and they worked hand-in-hand with Mazda North
American Operations own in-house fabrication team to mate them to
the Courage chassis. The dark matte finish with red and orange
accents harkens back to the livery worn by Mazdas legendary 787B
when it won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1991, making the company the
first and still only Japanese company to ever win the endurance
Furai not only probes future design possibilities, it also ventures
ahead with alternative renewable fuels. Consistent with Mazdas
recently announced Sustainable Zoom-Zoom initiatives, Furais
three-rotor powerplant has been tuned to run powerfully on ethanol
(ethyl alcohol) and ethanol gasoline blends. There are exciting
advances being made in renewable fuels, from current blends like E10
(10% ethanol and 90% gasoline) with research ongoing in making
Ethanol from cellulostic materials, to future renewable gasoline
components like Butanol, a higher order alcohol which is fungible
with gasoline. The addition of these renewable components improves
Mazdas understanding of how these fuels work with the companys
technology. and reduces the consumption of fossil hydrocarbons and
the emission of harmful greenhouse gasses.
John Doonan, Mazdas manager of motorsports team development,
explains the thinking behind Furais use of alternative renewable
fuels: One of our key technical partners in our motorsports
activity BP helped facilitate our use of renewable fuels for
this concept vehicle. Going forwards, we are working with BP to
determine appropriate renewable fuels for the vehicle and
potentially our team entry for the 2008 ALMS series. BP is a strong
leader in the renewable fuels areas, recently announcing a $500M
investment in the Energy Biosciences Institute, and we are proud to
partner with them.
Doonan continued, In 2007, ALMS required use of renewable fuels, so
were projecting ahead with this application to gain experience. BP
has a very green focus in the marketplace, and its Mazdas
intention to sustain its Zoom-Zoom performance image on and off the
racetrack. While Mazdas rotary has proven readily adaptable to
various alternative fuels, including considerable work with hydrogen
fuel, this is the first time its been engineered for other
renewable Ethanol blends.
Through the BP partnership, Furai has been specially tuned to
operate on renewable fuels. BP engineers continue to work to
optimize other fuels, including investigating new future renewable
fuel components. This is Mazdas first experience with ethanol fuel
in a three-rotor racing engine, and the results have been convincing
that, once again, the Mazda rotary engine is unique in its ability
to run well on multiple fuels.
Ethanol is derived from grains such as corn and wheat or soybeans.
Corn, the predominant feedstock, is converted to ethanol in either a
dry or wet milling process. Future advances for renewable gasoline
components include utilizing a wide variety of cellulosic biomass
feedstocks, including agricultural plant wastes (corn stover, cereal
straws, sugarcane bagasse), plant wastes from industrial processes
(sawdust, paper pulp) and energy crops grown specifically for fuel
production, such as switchgrass.
But what Furai has shown the Mazda team is the real value of
teamwork and key partners:
Racing Beat worked
tirelessly to develop the worlds only ethanol powered
three-rotor rotary engine.
Mothers Waxes and
Polishes supplies an extensive range of waxes, polishes, and
cleaners to keep the car looking its best at all times.
Liferacing, AER developed a six-speed paddle-shift mechanism.
Brembo worked with
the Mazda team to ensure the brakes were as effective on Furai
as they were in competition
Sachs and Eibach
worked together to bring an aggressive, but steetable, shock and
provided the amazing three-feet-deep paintwork.
Castrol supplies all
the high-performance lubricants.
Mazdas 2006 and
2007 ALMS tire development partner Kumho created the special
tread patterns necessary for Furais tires.
Wheels are from
partner BBS, and are 14-spoke, centerlock aluminum.
Seatbelts come from
Sparco Motor Sports.
Data acquisition and
powertrain controllers are manufactured and tuned by MoTeC, one
of the worlds leaders in racing electronics.
Headquartered in Irvine,
California, Mazda North American Operations oversees the sales,
marketing, parts and customer service support of Mazda vehicles in
the United States, Canada and Mexico through nearly 900 dealers.
Operations in Canada are managed by Mazda Canada, Inc., located in
Ontario, Canada, and in Mexico by Mazda Motor de Mexico in Mexico