Fioravanti does not like to be boxed in by the mere term ‘stylist’, and he is universally recognised as a designer in the broadest sense of the word. For many years this engineering graduate has, alongside form, also studied the future of the motor car. He is used to working with long time frames, such as the sixteen years between registering his patent for an intelligent tyre (1994) and its industrial production (Pirelli has announced that it will start manufacturing it in 2010).

With the Hidra, presented as a static model at the last Geneva show, Leonardo Fioravanti is also dealing with long time scales, albeit not quite so long, as, with the exception of its graceful styling – it is the second study in a mini-series dedicated to fuel cells and hydrogen power that began last year with the Thalia – this concept for a car without windscreen wipers could become reality in just three to five years. The Hidra uses nano-technology to make it water repellent, and its windows do not get wet or dirty.

In terms of form, the Hidra is a proposal for a 5 door, 4 seater MPC (multi purpose coupé), with a focus on dynamics, passive safety and flexibility. The hydrogen tanks are located within the central tunnel (in the Thalia they were under the rear seats), giving the car a low centre of gravity. The Hidra could be tomorrow’s answer to what Fioravanti believes is the primary function of the private car – freedom.

The car is defined by highly aerodynamic forms – albeit conditioned by the technology within – for less energy use, sleek lines with sculpted surfaces and a large belt feature in the flank, highlighted by the use of a different colour, that rises towards the rear and envelopes the tail. “It seemed like a good time to bring back two-tone”, says Fioravanti, “it’s inexpensive, brings freshness and adds another element to play with. It’s our way of giving the car a dash of fashion – an area in which we Italians excel – as fashion helps us enjoy life more.”

The article continues in Auto & Design no. 170

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