(from Toyota Press Release) The hybrid takes a supercar disguise for promoting a new way of
designing the environment friendly car of the future.
“We have entered a new era. We have created a hybrid that has nothing to do
with the typical electric power vehicle which so often flaunts rather
unappealing characteristics”, Fabrizio Giugiaro asserts.
“When creating the volumes of this eco supercar, the idea at the back of my
mind was to recapture the stylish features of the central-engine models, which
I had already used with the BMW Nazca, the Alfa Romeo Scighera and the
Volkswagen V 12, to demonstrate that if a racing shell can combine a “clean”
and innovative propulsion system, the headroom for creating and designing
environmentally-friendly sedan and compact cars of the future would be huge.”
Mindful of this, Alessandro Volta, the Italian physicist and discoverer of the
voltaic pile, was called to bear witness to an exciting stage of automotive
technological research, a momentum placing demands on the depth of
resources required from automobile manufacturers to meet head-on pressing
environmental issues such as gas emissions and the unrelenting consumption
of oil-derivative products.
Italdesign-Giugiaro could not have chosen a more appropriate partner than
Toyota for venturing into this theme of thought. As confirmed by Giorgetto
Giugiaro: “We have been working with Toyota for more than 25 years. We are
proud to have worked towards putting in place a hybrid prototype because the
advanced expertise and commitment of the Nagoya Carmaker to mixed wheeldrive
moves beyond day-to-day boundaries.”
Innovative layout for sporting performance
Toyota furnished to Italdesign-Giugiaro a derivative of its ultimate hybrid
system, the one adopted on the Lexus RX 400. On the Volta, the 3.3 liter V6
petrol engine is fitted behind the rear axle and not connected directly to the
wheels. Indeed, motion is ensured by two electrically powered engines, one
per axle thereby securing all-wheel drive and enhanced safety.
As such, this epoch-making mechanical layout paves the way to eliminating
the traditional transmission and gearbox longitudinal encumbrance. Indeed, operating electronics enable the power transmitted by the electric
motors to the wheels to be modulated, thereby rendering superfluous the
Housed under the lightweight, carbon-fiber chassis, designed and engineered
by the Italdesign Giugiaro technical department, are the batteries, weighing 70
Result: significantly leaner weight, balanced and encompassed between the
axles, 300 kW/408 HP output, top speed limited at 250 km/h with acceleration
from 0 to 100 km coming in 4.03 seconds.
Sparkling fuel-efficiency performance.
“But the more prestigious performance captured by this compact supercar, 4.3
meters long and less than 2 meters wide – emphasizes Fabrizio - is most
certainly its capability to cover 700 km at highway average speed with a 52-
liter tank. In addition, having freed the central tunnel from the propeller shaft
and from the exhaust pipe, we gained a flat floor that enables us to seat 3
Without doubt, 70 kg of batteries represent a significant increase in weight.
However, it should be recalled that an all-wheel drive for a mid/upper range
model caps 100/120 kgs. As such, resorting to the hybrid has paved the way
towards creating a compact, light and “socially responsible” sports car with allwheel
Supercar livery for a physique of excellence
The Volta sets the innovative content of the hybrid drivetrain in classic
supercar livery: compact volumes, downward flattened trim, tapered bonnet,
minimum rear overhang and truncated tail.
The dragon-fly winged doors are upward hinged in the front riser. Ample
aeration in the grill design, slanting lamps fitted in the fender motive on an
upper plane to the “aquiline” route followed by the bonnet’s center point.
In the body side, a sturdy belt band yet again stretches upward to the rear
wheel shaft enabling two “claw-marks” to be grazed as air intakes, whilst fitted
in the Grecian motive traced on the horizontal-base traverse allowing glimpses
of the carbon fiber chassis, are two thermal engine exhaust pipes.The body side and the upper tail merge and flow upward towards where the
roof and rear window meet: from there is triggered a rather singular truncated
tail profile, surmounted by the spoiler’s embossed motive protecting the optic
The tail’s lower band allocates the engine’s cooling air outlets.
“As a rule –Fabrizio Giugiaro confirms– a sports car with a central engine
expands lengthwise: engine, drivetrain and suspension push through
significant weight and occupy significant space to the detriment of passenger
legroom. With Alessandro Volta, we have confirmed the same performances
attaining better weight distribution and more comfortable seating. Indeed,
thanks to the flat floor, I set my mind to building a decidedly innovative
interior geared towards the 3-seat offering and a flexible steering wheel and
pedal board clamping.”
As a result of adopting the By Wire technology, the pedal board and steering
wheel can slide along strips, whether to the right, center or left.
This did not translate into having to adopt a bench seat, but paved the way
towards creating extremely ergonomic and sophisticated sliding seats, thereby
ensuring personalized driving comfort. A sturdily built driver, for example, can
move the seat away from the door or a three-seating arrangement can be
obtained for two adults with one child sitting in the middle. Even with three
passengers, the interior offers more sitting and legroom than in normal sports
In order to obtain maximum driving seat adaptability, Fabrizio Giugiaro also
turned a keen eye to dashboard design. Dashboard information has been
stripped down to the essential: speedometer, speed indicators and fuel level
confirmed; temperature indicators eliminated; navigator and stereo Toyota
Also for the Volta, Italdesign-Giugiaro went beyond the shell, utilizing its
testing and engineering department to design the carbon fiber chassis, the
push-rods and the mechanisms regulating pedal/steering column block
traslability, whilst its prototyping construction workshops to crystallize the
styling model and operational prototype.
Other than the petrol propulsor, also drawn from the collaboration with Toyota
are the electric engines, the batteries and all operational management
electronics plus the expertise gained in an avant-garde specialty.
“With the Volta – Fabrizio Giugiaro concludes – we have reconciled top
performance with low gas emissions and noiseless operation. And when one
drives through a historic town center, a supercar of this genre does not “fret”
at low speed: at 20/30 km/h, the driver can switch to the absolutely silent
electric engine. Sheer pleasure from the historic town center to the racetrack.”