In March we told you that Nissan's luxury brand, Infiniti, planned to release a hybrid version of their M sedan. Today the Japanese automaker has confirmed that the new hybrid will be available in the spring of 2011 for the 2012 model year.
This will be Infiniti's first offering in the luxury hybrid field and the powertrain has been developed entirely in-house. It's a single electric motor, twin-clutch system in which the first clutch sits between the motor and Nissan's venerable 3.5-liter V6. Infiniti says this configuration allows for "consistent driving feel under all conditions."
Several automakers have developed hybrid systems that make the transition between the electric motor and the gas engine seamless, but these fuel-saving powertrains aren't widely available in "performance" cars yet. Infiniti hopes to change that with the rear-wheel drive M35.
The M's electric motor can move the vehicle by itself under certain driving conditions, but it can also assist the gas engine under heavy acceleration demands. Regenerative braking will be employed to capture otherwise lost energy and "laminated" lithium-ion batteries will be used to store the energy. Though the batteries will be the same size as conventional li-ions, Infiniti says the laminated variant will offer twice as much power and better cooling properties, which should promote long term reliability.
Most auto-journalists were impressed by the look of Infiniti's Essence concept at the Geneva Motor Show. The new M will take design cues from the Essence and promote the "green" ideals that it espoused. Time will tell whether the M35 Hybrid will deliver on Infiniti's promise of performance and efficiency. If the new M lives up to its billing though, you'll be able to have your cake and eat it too.