In the last decade, Honda and Toyota have made quite a name for themselves in regards to hybrid electric vehicle technology, but Japan's third largest automaker, Nissan, has never been a contender among these advanced, fuel-efficient vehicles. That is all set to change following Infiniti's announcement that it will offer a hybrid version of the all-new M sedan - the 2012 M35 Hybrid. Adding the hybrid powertrain to the new M sedan's already sexy design should give the Lexus GS some real competition.
Based off the redesigned 2011 M, Infiniti's first-ever hybrid will pair the M35's 3.5-liter V-6 engine with a single electric motor that features a twin clutch arrangement. This twin clutch design allows the electric motor to act as a power supplement to the engine in 'power assist' mode or act as a generator to charge the battery during deceleration or braking. Powering the motor, Infiniti chose to use a laminated lithium ion battery pack which it claims is the same size as conventional batteries and offers twice the power output. Infiniti also says that the laminating of the batteries will allow the battery pack to cool more quickly. Infiniti says that the M Hybrid will be able to run solely on the electric motor, but specific details regarding battery, motor output and driving range were not released.
The 2012 Infiniti M35 Hybrid will be a major accomplishment for Nissan Motor Company making it the company's first true hybrid vehicle. Yes, it does offer the current Nissan Altima Hybrid, but not only does that model use Toyota's Hybrid Synergy Drive system it also is a low-production, limited-availability vehicle. From the electric motor to the battery pack, the system used in the new Infiniti M Hybrid was developed completely in-house. Infiniti says that the 2012 M35 Hybrid will be 'the cleanest and most economical car in Infiniti's history.'
As for the styling of the M35 Hybrid, it looks like Infiniti will resist the urge to overload its car with aerodynamic changes or gaudy stickers, but it will add subtle 'hybrid' badges on the decklid and fenders. When it makes its debut, the 2011 M sedan will already be one of the more attractive luxury sedans on the market with a stylish design based on the 2009 Infiniti Essence concept vehicle, and the addition of the 'green car' hybrid powertrain surely won't hurt its visibility among consumers.
Initial sales of the new Infiniti M sedan, which made its official debut at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance earlier this year, are set to commence this spring, and Infiniti says that the M35 Hybrid will debut a year later as a 2012 model. No word yet as to pricing or fuel economy, but we're guessing the M Hybrid is gunning for the GS 450h which starts just under $57,000 and has respectable EPA fuel economy estimates of 22 miles per gallon in the city and 25 mpg on the highway.