The “driver’s hybrid” from Infiniti, the M35h, will introduce world-first steering and braking technologies when it goes on sale in the USA and Europe in 2011. The debut systems have been designed to deliver both environmental benefits and enhanced driving feel, reinforcing strengths already central to the Infiniti M35h with its innovative one motor/two clutch system.
Like the drivetrain, which marries a charismatic V6 petrol engine with 50 kW (68 PS) electric motor built in to the 7-speed automatic transmission, simplicity was a key tenet in the development of the steering and brakes of the high performance luxury sedan.
The steering of the Infiniti M35h is an electro-hydraulic system with “on-demand” assistance. It offers the advantages of both types of steering – the natural and smooth feel of hydraulic power steering and the improved fuel efficiency of an electric system – while the motor cuts in only when the wheel is turned, further boosting efficiency. The system is smaller than traditional power steering set-ups, a feat achieved by integrating multiple parts.
The brakes are similarly designed primarily to suit sports sedan buyers’ needs, but at the same time contributing to the lower carbon footprint of the M35h, low CO2 champion of Infiniti’s all-new M Line sedan line-up.
The engineers looked to the hybrid system itself for the solution. What they came up with – a way to use the vehicle’s electric drive motor to operate the brake cylinders – represents another world-first innovation for the Japanese brand.
The system is called Electric Driven Intelligent Brake. When the driver steps on the brake pedal, the necessary braking force is maintained while the hydraulic pressure of the friction brake is controlled to help maximize the energy regeneration of the hybrid motor. Because of its simple structure, in which the motor directly operates the brake cylinders, the Electric Driven Intelligent Brake system has the potential to be a key part of all future Infiniti Direct Response Hybrid vehicles.
The simplicity of these elegant mechanical solutions, with their emphasis on more compactness, lighter weight and fewer parts, is made possible by advanced computerized control.
Another benefit of both the new steering and braking systems is that they work with the innovative drivetrain to enhance the driving experience rather than dilute it in the manner of some hybrid vehicles. Designed to be fast and responsive with a strong sporting bias to the rear-wheel drive handling, the Infiniti M35h aims to deliver an exhilarating drive in all situations.
Central to this is its one motor/two clutch system. The first clutch is installed between the naturally-aspirated 3.5-litre V6 and the electric motor, which is embedded within the automatic transmission. The electronically controlled clutch allows the full decoupling of the V6 when the car is in electric drive and power regeneration modes. Decoupling the V6 reduces mechanical drag and boosts the efficiency of the electric motor.
Aided by an exceptionally fast charge/discharge response from the lithium-ion battery pack, the result is a hybrid that’s electrically powered for more of the time, and at higher speeds, than conventional hybrids.
Yet when the driver demands it the Infiniti M35h responds like a true high performance machine, offering the linear acceleration and unsullied rear-drive handling of a true Infiniti – complete with all the charisma of one of the great V6 petrol engines. Like the 7-speed Adaptive Shift Control (ASC) automatic transmission that blips the throttle on downchanges, the new braking and steering technologies are integral to the M35h’s positioning as the hybrid to please the most demanding of drivers.
Infiniti’s first hybrid, the M35h is the low CO2 star of the all-new M Line which also includes petrol and diesel models and which is the first M ever to be sold in all of Infiniti’s 34 world markets.
Among the Infiniti M’s many other claims to fame are the world-first Blind Spot Intervention (BSI), state-of-the-art Forest Air climate control and Active Noise Control, while comfort and luxury are taken care of with double-piston dampers and the availability of semi-aniline leather in the spacious cabin.
M35h sales start in spring 2011, depending on market.