Infiniti M Hybrid is the official sponsor of NCAA Men’s Basketball Division I championship

Article by Christian Andrei, on March 10, 2011

Infiniti has signed up to be a sponsor of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Division I championship. It has entered a multi-network advertising deal with NCAA, CBS Sports and Turner Sports to run a total of 170 TV spots of up to 60 seconds each over the next four weeks of March Madness basketball playoffs on CBS, TBS, TNT and truTV networks, according to Kathy Roznowski, a marketing manager at Infiniti. At least 100 of those 170 ad spots will promote the new M hybrid sedan.

The first spot will run on March 17. The M Hybrid is expected to have modest US sales, lower than the sales of the regular M. The M Hybrid is priced at $54,575 including delivery. However, Infiniti is depending on the hybrid to provide a technology halo to the brand this year.

Infiniti wants to stand out as a stylish, technologically advanced luxury marquee. In February, Infiniti’s sales rose by 30%. Sales of the M, its largest car climbed nearly 22% to 2,055 for the first two months of this year.

However, the new hybrid version, which starts selling in April, doesn’t just provide incremental sales. Ben Poore, Infiniti vice president, said that many luxury consumers won’t consider a brand if it doesn’t offer a hybrid model even if they don’t intend to buy a hybrid.

Infiniti is planning to launch its "driver's hybrid," the Infiniti M35h, in the United States and Europe in 2011. When that comes, it would mark the debut of some world-first steering and braking technologies – all designed to deliver both environmental benefits and improved driving feel while augmenting the strengths of the new Infiniti M35h with its one motor/two clutch system. This driver’s hybrid features a drivetrain that includes a V6 petrol engine, a 50 kW (68 PS) electric motor and a seven-speed automatic transmission – all developed using simplicity as a main principle.

This tenet was also followed during the development of the steering and brakes of the new Infiniti M35h. As expected of the premium carmaker, it provided the Infiniti M35h with an electro-hydraulic steering system with "on-demand" assistance. This system offers the enhanced fuel efficiency of an electric system – since the motor takes over only when the wheel is turned for better efficiency.

Moreover, the system offers the natural and smooth feel of hydraulic power steering. Interestingly, this electro-hydraulic steering system is smaller than the usual power steering set-ups, thanks to the integration of multiple parts. As for the braking system, it was developed and designed not only to suit the needs of sports sedan drivers, but also to further lower the already low carbon footprint of the Infiniti M35h.

Thus, engineers at Infiniti came up with the Electric Driven Intelligent Brake system, which employs the hybrid’s electric drive motor to operate the brake cylinders. As soon as the brake pedal is pressed, the system maintains the needed braking force and controls the hydraulic pressure of the friction brake to optimize the energy regeneration of the hybrid motor. Since the hybrid motor directly operates the brake cylinders, the Electric Driven Intelligent Brake system could become a vital element on future Infiniti Direct Response Hybrid vehicles.

These new steering and braking systems are developed with a simple focus on compactness and lighter weight as well as fewer parts – all achieved by employing advanced computerized control. While some hybrid vehicles may temper the driving experience, the new Infiniti M35h does the opposite – it enhances this experience with the help of the new electro-hydraulic steering and Electric Driven Intelligent Brake systems. With rear-wheel-drive handling, the Infiniti M35h delivers a sporty drive in all situations.

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