One of the many new hybrid vehicles on display at Geneva is the Infiniti M35 Hybrid, which is in fact the world premiere of Infiniti’s first production hybrid.
The hybrid version of the all-new M Line saloon range comes with a V6 engine, 7-speed automatic transmission and rear-drive handling, and it will join the M Line range from 2011.
A decoupling V6 engine, 50 kW (68 PS) electric motor built in to the 7-speed automatic transmission and exceptionally fast charge/discharge response from the lithium-ion battery pack all add up to a hybrid that’s electrically powered for more of the time, and at higher speeds, than conventional hybrids. The technology has been given the name Infiniti Direct Response Hybrid.
The M35 Hybrid uses a front-engine, rear-drive-only layout based around a drivetrain featuring a one motor/two clutch system. The first clutch is installed between the naturally-aspirated 3.5-litre V6 and the electric motor. This clutch allows the full decoupling of the V6 when in both electric and power regeneration modes – in order to reduce mechanical drag and boost the efficiency of the electric motor.
During testing the M35 Hybrid was able to drive in electric-only mode, with zero tailpipe emissions, for as much as 50 per cent of the time.
The car has a lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery pack which is quick to alternate between charging/discharging and, size for size, twice as powerful as conventional batteries.
The M35 Hybrid is based on the FM (Front-Midship) platform and the company says that the petrol or electric power is delivered to the rear wheels in a very ‘direct’ way.
The M35 Hybrid’s transmission is a version of Infiniti’s 7-speed Adaptive Shift Control (ASC) automatic transmission without a torque converter, and therefore without any of the losses that torque converters cause. This also promises to enhance responsiveness for a sportier-feeling drive.
The electric motor is rated at 50 kW (68 PS) with 270 Nm of torque and is embedded within the transmission. The motor acts as both propulsion unit, either by itself or to boost 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 compact battery pack, allied to the single electric motor, results in a 30kg weight saving.
M Line sales in Western Europe begin in September, with the M35 Hybrid due to arrive from spring 2011, depending on market.
Keywords: Infiniti M35 Hybrid, Infiniti Direct Response Hybrid, Front-Midship platform, 2010 Geneva Motor Show.