2010 Geneva Motor Show: Infiniti M35 Hybrid

Article by Christian Andrei, on August 26, 2010

Infiniti's first hybrid, the new M35 Hybrid, had its launching at the Geneva Motor Show. It could actually be regarded as the petrol-electric version of Infiniti's new 5-series rival, the M saloon. The M35 is equipped with Infiniti's Direct Response Hybrid system, a 3.5-liter V6 mated with a 67bhp/199lb ft electric motor that is located between the engine and the seven-speed transmission. 

The M35, like the Porsche Cayenne and VW Touareg, is featured with a second clutch that disconnects the engine from the transmission. This enables the car to coast effectively, reducing drag and improving efficiency. The M35's transmission is an upgraded version of the standard Infiniti seven-speed auto. To make the engine more responsive and efficient, Infiniti removed the torque converter.

The car's engine is the US-spec V6, which is capable of 316bhp and 266lb ft. European and UK Infinitis have a 3.7-liter unit but Infiniti is using the older V6 since development work on the hybrid began before the 3.7-litre engine was created.

The M35 weighs about 150kg more than a standard M; however, Infiniti claims that using a laminated lithium ion battery cuts 30kg. When compared to a conventional battery, the laminated unit is easier to cool and this increases efficiency and longevity.

This makes the batteries last 136,000 miles before they need to be replaced. Weight is further reduced by removing the starter motor. Instead, the electric motor turns the engine over.

Infiniti sources say that this became a technical issue since both clutches had to slip to allow the engine to start. The hybrid is expected to go on sale after about a year, sales of which should account for 33% of total European M sales. For the first full year (2011), total sales in Europe are estimated to average 3,500.

Press Release

Infiniti M35h

The "driver's hybrid" from Infiniti, the Infiniti M35h, will introduce world-first steering and braking technologies when it goes on sale in the USA and Europe in 2011. The debut systems have been designed to deliver both environmental benefits and enhanced driving feel, reinforcing strengths already central to the Infiniti M35h with its innovative one motor/two clutch system.

Like the drivetrain, which marries a charismatic V6 petrol engine with 50 kW (68 PS) electric motor built in to the 7-speed automatic transmission, simplicity was a key tenet in the development of the steering and brakes of the high performance luxury sedan.

The steering of the Infiniti M35h is an electro-hydraulic system with "on-demand" assistance. It offers the advantages of both types of steering - the natural and smooth feel of hydraulic power steering and the improved fuel efficiency of an electric system - while the motor cuts in only when the wheel is turned, further boosting efficiency. The system is smaller than traditional power steering set-ups, a feat achieved by integrating multiple parts.

The brakes are similarly designed primarily to suit sports sedan buyers' needs, but at the same time contributing to the lower carbon footprint of the Infiniti M35h, low CO2 champion of Infiniti's all-new M Line sedan line-up.

The engineers looked to the hybrid system itself for the solution. What they came up with - a way to use the vehicle's electric drive motor to operate the brake cylinders - represents another world-first innovation for the Japanese brand.

The system is called Electric Driven Intelligent Brake. When the driver steps on the brake pedal, the necessary braking force is maintained while the hydraulic pressure of the friction brake is controlled to help maximize the energy regeneration of the hybrid motor. Because of its simple structure, in which the motor directly operates the brake cylinders, the Electric Driven Intelligent Brake system has the potential to be a key part of all future Infiniti Direct Response Hybrid vehicles.

The simplicity of these elegant mechanical solutions, with their emphasis on more compactness, lighter weight and fewer parts, is made possible by advanced computerized control.

Another benefit of both the new steering and braking systems is that they work with the innovative drivetrain to enhance the driving experience rather than dilute it in the manner of some hybrid vehicles. Designed to be fast and responsive with a strong sporting bias to the rear-wheel drive handling, the Infiniti M35h aims to deliver an exhilarating drive in all situations.

Central to this is its one motor/two clutch system. The first clutch is installed between the naturally-aspirated 3.5-litre V6 and the electric motor, which is embedded within the automatic transmission. The electronically controlled clutch allows the full decoupling of the V6 when the car is in electric drive and power regeneration modes. Decoupling the V6 reduces mechanical drag and boosts the efficiency of the electric motor.

Aided by an exceptionally fast charge/discharge response from the lithium-ion battery pack, the result is a hybrid that's electrically powered for more of the time, and at higher speeds, than conventional hybrids.

Yet when the driver demands it the Infiniti M35h responds like a true high performance machine, offering the linear acceleration and unsullied rear-drive handling of a true Infiniti - complete with all the charisma of one of the great V6 petrol engines. Like the 7-speed Adaptive Shift Control (ASC) automatic transmission that blips the throttle on downchanges, the new braking and steering technologies are integral to the Infiniti M35h's positioning as the hybrid to please the most demanding of drivers.

Infiniti's first hybrid, the M35h is the low CO2 star of the all-new M Line which also includes petrol and diesel models and which is the first M ever to be sold in all of Infiniti's 34 world markets.

Among the Infiniti M's many other claims to fame are the world-first Blind Spot Intervention (BSI), state-of-the-art Forest Air climate control and Active Noise Control, while comfort and luxury are taken care of with double-piston dampers and the availability of semi-aniline leather in the spacious cabin.

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