Infiniti has confirmed its first production Hybrid vehicle will form part of the recently announced M range of luxury performance sedans. With its introduction, the Infiniti M35 HYBRID will realise the high performance/low emissions promise of the Essence concept car.
The luxury automotive brand from Japan is simultaneously upping the stakes in the hybrid world by emphasising fuel efficiency alongside an attribute that hasn’t so far featured widely among hybrids: driving pleasure.
On sale beginning Spring 2011, depending on market, the M35 HYBRID has been designed and engineered to add to, not take away from, the driving experience, a key part of any Infiniti’s appeal.
The M35 HYBRID is the brand’s first hybrid in its 20-year existence, as well as the cleanest and most economical car in its history. It is based on the all-new Infiniti M which itself picks up styling cues from Essence, the show-stopper that made its debut at the Geneva Auto Show early in 2009. The M35 HYBRID maintains a high performance luxury sedan profile, overlaying it with the fuel economy and CO2 emissions of a smaller car while delivering driving flair to please any enthusiast, complete with a charismatic V6 and rear-wheel drive handling.
Infiniti’s hybrid system, developed solely within Infiniti’s parent group, is a one electric motor/twin clutch arrangement. Innovatively, the first clutch is installed between the naturally-aspirated 3.5-litre V6 and the electric motor. The result of this elegant engineering configuration, where all components act on a single propshaft to the rear differential, is a consistent driving feel under all conditions with linear performance and the “direct responses” that the engineers sought.
The electric motor acts as both propulsion unit, boosting the V6 in “power assist” mode when maximum acceleration is required, and also as a generator. As well as charging the battery in the normal way, the motor recovers energy otherwise lost during deceleration and braking. The M35 HYBRID can also run solely on its electric motor in certain driving conditions, furthering fuel efficiency.
In this way the M35 HYBRID can optimise energy usage across the widest possible range of driving conditions, promising new levels of efficiency for a large sedan. Details of driving range, performance and transmission will be released later.
As the motoring world would expect of Infiniti, several new technologies are introduced such as a new “laminated” lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery pack that is the same size as conventional batteries but offers twice the power. Lamination enhances the pack’s cooling performance while temperature stability is further improved by the use of manganese positive electrodes. An end result of this is exceptional battery reliability.
Already the new-generation Infiniti M models are on target to beat their predecessors on fuel consumption and emissions – despite across-the-board performance improvements – thanks to a range of efficiency-enhancing measures.
The M35 HYBRID will join the conventionally-engined M models – including a new high-performance diesel V6 for Western Europe – as the first generation of Infiniti’s luxury performance saloon to be sold across all of its world markets which currently number 33 countries. Depending on market, sales are expected to start from Spring 2010 with the M35 HYBRID arriving around 12 months later.