17 November 2004

Toyota is planning a high-output hybrid supercar that could be on sale by 2007. The flagship Toyota would be the first production supercar with hybrid power, offering high performance with a low environmental impact.

‘If we do a supercar, we don’t want to copy everyone else,’ said Thierry Dombreval, marketing boss for Toyota Motor Europe. ‘With hybrid power we could mix high performance with green credentials.’

At this year’s Geneva Motor Show Italdesign showed the Alessandro Volta (above), a 402bhp 3.3-litre V6 hybrid supercar, with a claimed 155mph top speed, 0-62mph in 4.1sec and 38mpg. It was developed with Toyota.

Although the Volta is not a running prototype, Toyota Motor Europe’s research and development boss Kazuhiko Miyadera said he has driven the company’s high-performance hybrid test car. ‘Because of the steep torque curve of an electric motor, the acceleration is very good. It’s very quick,’ he said.

Toyota is exploring its first supercar to take advantage of its involvement in F1 and to keep up with arch-rival Nissan, which will unveil a 400bhp Skyline GT-R at the 2007 Tokyo Motor Show. Toyota will also steal a march on Honda, which has canned an NSX replacement (right) in favour of a Porsche Boxster rival, still several years off.

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‘A hybrid supercar is just right for Toyota. It is something different and fits our brand,’ said Dombreval. ‘We are leaders in hybrid technology and we could exploit it in this new way.’

But Toyota has to overcome the resistance of supercar buyers, who judge their purchases on factors such as engine size, badge credibility and racing heritage, as well as performance. ‘We don’t think this should be a problem. We could offer something new and different that also has strong performance and is green,’ said Dombreval.

Significantly, because of the size of their markets, both Toyota in the US and Japan are understood to be behind the idea.

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