Next year's all-new 2011 Infiniti M series of luxury sports sedans will spawn a hybrid version, the 2012 M35 Hybrid, a year later. But even standard gasoline-engined models will offer new technology to help drivers save fuel.
In this case, it's an accelerator pedal that talks back, courtesy of the Japanese supplier Mikuni Corp. The smart pedal was first detailed when Infiniti showed the all-new M sedan at last month's 2009 Los Angeles Auto Show.
It integrates variable resistance to pedal pressure into the software that controls the car's fuel management system. That lets Infiniti program the accelerator to require greater pressure if the driver uses more gasoline than the ideal minimum in any condition.
2011 Infiniti M 37
2011 Infiniti M 56
We can hear the rumblings already, so rest assured the feature can be turned off altogether. Drivers can also, of course, simply press a little harder to override the resistance.
But if they pay attention, fuel economy should rise, since the car knows much better than the driver exactly how much fuel it's consuming.
A similar product has been developed by the European parts maker Continental, though in its first version it discourages acceleration if the car ahead is too close or decelerating. In effect, it achieves the same goal as adaptive cruise control systems that maintain a safe distance from the car ahead. Now the company has added resistance for better fuel consumption as well.
Continental quotes 5 to 10 percent lower fuel consumption and a similar reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. It hasn't yet been announced for any vehicles, but the company says it will likely arrive on a 2012 or 2013 model.
The first studies show that using it as a gear-shift indicator led to a reduction in CO2 and fuel use of 5 to 10 percent,” said Peter Laier, executive vice president of Continental's chassis components business unit. “Therefore we see 5 percent as realistic.”
[Automotisve News (subscription required) ]