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.