TURIN – An elite group of Italian designers and engineers combines to make a splash at the Shanghai auto show with the Vulcano concept, a hyper-performance hybrid sports car.

The Vulcano (Italian for ‘volcano’) is the work of Icona Shanghai, established in 2010 as a design, engineering and manufacturing operation providing the services of its 40 international experts to Asian auto makers.

The principals’ core business is in Italy but they seek closer ties to the Chinese market. They certainly raise their profile with the 2-seater Vulcano. While the car displayed at Shanghai is a mockup, a working prototype is under construction and could be ready for market in nine months, says Giovanni Forneris, founder and managing director of modeler and prototype maker Cecomp.

The Vulcano’s chief designer is Samuel Chuffart, who has had past assignments at Nissan, Jaguar Land Rover and Stile Bertone. His approach, he says, “was to express the amazing capabilities of the extremely powerful car, while maintaining harmonious and generous shapes (and) strike the best balance between power and beauty.”

The powertrain’s developer is Claudio Lombardi, whose resume includes racing and production- car development at Ferrari F1 and Lancia. He and his company, AIPA, have designed not one but two engines for the Vulcano.

The mid-front-engine Vulcano’s 6.0L V-12 develops 950 hp and delivers a top speed of 218 mph       (350 km/h). A single electric motor integrated into the gearbox draws an additional 148 lb.-ft. (200 Nm) of instant torque from the rear wheels.

Also planned is a 3.8L twin-turbocharged V-6 “racing” version incorporating a gearbox-integrated motor and two electric motors on the front axle for permanent 4-wheel drive. The powerplant makes 870 hp and matches the V-12’s top speed of 218 mph.

Icona Shanghai does not reveal data for the energy-storage system but promises a range of 18 miles (30 km) in full-electric mode.

Inside the cockpit are 5-point safety harnesses and a large touchscreen displaying navigation and entertainment functions. Natural saddle leather is combined with carbon fiber and matching black Alcantara simulated suede leather.

Icona Shanghai intends to build no more than five made-to-order Vulcanos at prices ranging from €2 million-€3 million ($2.6 million-$3.9 million), based on requests made so far.

To establish its name and reputation in China, the new company, under the direction of CEO Teresio Gaudio, presented its first show car, the Icona Fuselage electric-vehicle concept, at the 2011 Shanghai show. The response was so positive that Icona Shanghai decided to develop a complete car to attract new business and enhance the brand.

Partners Cecomp and Tecnocad Progetti provide design, engineering and manufacturing services to major global auto makers. Tecnocad is prominent in body design and engineering in the Turin area, counting Fiat Group among its clients. Cecomp recently committed to volume production of the Bollore Blue Car EV.