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INFINITI M35 HYBRID BOASTS 60-90% MPG GAINS


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INFINITI M35 HYBRID BOASTS 60-90% MPG GAINS

By Mark Kleis

Nissan’s luxury division – Infiniti – first announced a new M35 Hybrid model at the Geneva Motor Show. Now Nissan has divulged the first details concerning the fuel economy and technology for the luxury marque’s first gas-electric offering.

Based on the all-new M sedan, the 2012 M35 Hybrid will couple Infiniti’s 3.5-liter V6 with a compact hybrid drive system. Although Infiniti’s parent company – Nissan – has previously offered a hybrid in the form of the Altima Hybrid, the system used in the M represents Nissan’s first in-house designed hybrid drive system. Infiniti refers to its hybrid system as INFINITI DIRECT RESPONSE HYBRID.

Infiniti says that the M35 Hybrid will use a unique one motor, twin-clutch system, allowing the gas engine to completely decouple from the driveline, thereby reducing mechanical drag. Backed by a lithium-ion battery pack, Infiniti says the M35 Hybrid can operate in complete electric mode in up to 50 percent of driving conditions.

Comparatively, Toyota’s hybrid system uses a two-motor, single clutch series parallel system, which Reuters points out is less efficient and weighs roughly 66 pounds more. Volkswagen utilizes a dual-clutch system, but uses nickel-metal hydride batteries, as opposed to the lithium-ion batteries in the Infiniti system which help to capture discharging energy faster. Infiniti says that its system is less complex and also less expensive to produce than Toyota’s alternative, as well.

“Typically, carmakers say the fuel economy improvement on their cars using a ’strong’ or ‘full’ hybrid system is roughly 30 percent, while for ‘mild’ hybrids [like Honda's], it’s 15 percent,” Koichi Hayasaki, chief engineer of Nissan’s rear-wheel-drive hybrid system told Reuters.

Like the standard M sedan, the M35 Hybrid features a rear-wheel drive setup. The car’s electric motor can aid the gas engine in virtually all situations, ensuring maximum performance. Infiniti has not officially given the M35 Hybrid’s expected fuel economy ratings or power numbers, but did reveal the electric motor will add 68 horsepower and 200 lb-ft of torque.

The current Infiniti V6-powered M sedan recently replaced the 3.5-liter V6 for a 3.7-liter variant, which upped the power by 27 to 330, torque by 8 to 270 and increased fuel economy by 1 mpg for city and highway to 18 and 26, respectively. Hayasaki said, “We’re aiming for an improvement of 60 to 90 percent,” but failed to clarify if it was in comparison to the new M37 or the outgoing M35 V6.

The new M35 Hybrid is due to hit Infiniti dealers in spring 2011

link:

http://www.leftlanenews.com/infiniti-m35-hybrid.html

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“Typically, carmakers say the fuel economy improvement on their cars using a ’strong’ or ‘full’ hybrid system is roughly 30 percent, while for ‘mild’ hybrids [like Honda's], it’s 15 percent,” Koichi Hayasaki, chief engineer of Nissan’s rear-wheel-drive hybrid system told Reuters.

Honda tends to pair the hybrid with a smaller displacement engine to achieve greater than 15% improvements over the regular trim (almost 30% for the Civic). Honda's IMA also isn't entirely a mild hybrid, since it does allow for electric-only operation (engine valves are shut using vtec to remove pumping losses). Unfortunately Honda doesn't have any same liter, same model comparisons, at least since the Accord (which used an older IMA). The closest current comparison might be the 1.5L found in the Fit and CR-Z, since they are very similar engines and platforms.

Fit 1.5L: 27/33/30

CR-Z 1.5L + IMA: 35/39/37

Improvement: 23%/15%/19%

Keep in mind the CR-Z weighs over 100 lbs more than the automatic Fit Sport. It is also using NiMH batteries, while Nissan is intending to use Li-Ion. Once Toyota and Honda switch to Li-Ion, as they have both stated they will be, I would expect to see larger percentage gains, making Nissan's claim less "boastful". Though it will still be interesting to see if Nissan can achieve a 60-90% gain, using the same 3.5L gasoline engine, with their hybrid system.

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Fit 1.5L: 27/33/30

CR-Z 1.5L + IMA: 35/39/37

Improvement: 23%/15%/19%

That's five-speed auto vs. CVT. If you compare manuals...

Fit 1.5L: 27/33

CR-Z 1.5L + IMA: 31/37

Improvement: 15%/12%

Granted CR-Z weighs a bit more, but it also has one more gear (six-speed).

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