A Japanese Exotic Ahead of It's Time: The Volta—Toyota's Abandoned 2004 Supercar Concept
While Japanese cars are beloved by enthusiasts around the world, Japan's automakers aren't known for building high end supercars. Yes, there are some exceptions like the Lexus LFA and perhaps the Acura NSX, but it's usually the more mainstream segments where Japanese carmakers dominate.
With that said, there are also a few Japanese supercar concepts and prototypes which never saw the light of say—one of which is a nearly forgotten Toyota project from 2004.
Origins of the Name
The concept debuted at the 2004 Geneva Motor Show and was officially called the Toyota Alessandro Volta, taking its name from the Italian physicist who is credited for inventing the battery (he's also where we got the term "volts" from).
The Italian connection was also there in the form of the car's styling, which was done by the famed Italdesign Giugiaro studio. A thoroughly high tech experiment, the svelte body sat over a full carbon fiber chassis.
And rather than a screaming naturally aspirated engine as you might expect from an early 2000s supercar, the Alessandro Volta used Toyota's then groundbreaking hybrid technology for its powertrain.
More specifically it used a setup borrowed from the Lexus RX400h, with a V6 engine mounted behind the cockpit and two electric motors that sent over 400 horsepower to all four wheels.
As you likely know, the project never moved beyond the concept stage, with massive costs being one of the main reasons it never saw production.
Given the abundance of hybrid supercars today, including the aforementioned Acura NSX, this concept doesn't seem that bold by current standards but it was a big deal back in 2004 when the fuel-sipping Prius was the default hybrid people thought of.
And as one more piece of evidence that this car was a preview of what's to come Toyota has been working on a new hybrid-powered hypercar project that will be a road-going version of its Le Mans race car.
As it turns out the Alessandro Volta was simply ahead of its time by about 20 years.
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Find out more Toyota's upcoming 1,000 horsepower hypercar right here.