Nissan's luxury badge Infiniti is very familiar to American buyers but is only now being introduced in Europe where Toyota's comparable Lexus brand has a twenty-year head start.

Now Infiniti has confirmed that it will start selling its first production hybrid, the M35 Hybrid, from 2011, and, once again, it seems to be a question of playing catch-up with Lexus, which has been making luxury hybrids for several years now. Tellingly, although a number of claims are made for the M35 Hybrid's efficiency and economy (full details haven't yet been released), the new car will be part of Infiniti's M range of sporty cars, rather than being positioned as a special economy model. That move again reflects Lexus' approach, and contrasts heavily with the eco sales message associated with smaller hybrids such as the Toyota Prius and Honda Insight.

It is exceptionally difficult to establish a new luxury car brand in Europe – Lexus is only starting to make an impact after twenty years and Audi is only beginning to look BMW and Mercedes in the eye forty years after being reinvented, so Infiniti has its work cut out - although the M35 Hybrid will help.

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