Yamaha showed an intriguing concept for a new sports car at the 2015 Tokyo show. Called the Yamaha Sports Ride Concept, it was designed in association with engineer extraordinaire Gordon Murray – and features the first carbonfibre application of his new iStream manufacturing process.
Composites would keep weight comfortably lower than 1000kg, making for a lightweight rival to the Lotus Elise and Alfa Romeo 4C. Regrettably few details have been issued by Yamaha, but a bike engine would be most likely to power the Sports Ride car were it to make the leap from motor show catwalk to low-volume production reality. The iStream Carbon process is suited to volumes of between 1000-350,000 a year, claims Murray.
Yamaha’s 4Wheeler concept at Tokyo 2015
As it’s a Yamaha, it’s naturally ‘inspired by motorcycles’ and in the build-up to the show was dubbed called the 4Wheeler. The deliberately obscure rendering issued in advance indicated a compact, short-wheelbase, mid-engined design. Now we can see it for real at the Tokyo auto show.
The Murray link stems from Yamaha’s involvement with Gordon Murray Design’s T25 city car project for some years, with aco-created concept called the Motiv revealed in 2013. The car’s modular architecture and innovative ‘iStream’ production process is designed to be applied to a variety of different sizes and styles – including, potentially, a sports car. Furthermore, the codename T40 has been linked with the new Yamaha concept – a continuation of the naming system for previous Gordon Murray Design iStream prototypes.
‘Lightweighting is the final frontier in the automotive industry fight to lower emissions,’ said Murray. ‘There have been great strides forward in engine design, electrical control systems, tyre design and transmission technology, but we are now experiencing a plateau in the advance of technology where the law of diminishing returns comes into play. A step change in vehicle weight to enable downsizing of powertrain and components is all we have left in the armoury. Light weighting is important for internal combustion engined cars, but even more important for hybrids and electric vehicles.’
Read the CAR+ interview with former Grand Prix car designer (and McLaren F1 creator) Gordon Murray here.
Last time Yamaha had a crack at a sports car
Back in the early ’90s Yamaha planned a V12-powered, tandem-seat supercar called the 0X99-11, ultimately shelved in the midst of budgetary blunders and local recession, but not before three fascinating prototypes were built. Expect the new Sports Ride concept to be more pure sports car than overblown supercar. It’s unlikely to pack a V12 – expect a scaled-down powerplant (the Motiv concept packed a sub-1000cc three-pot), possibly borrowed from the company’s motorcycle arm, and potentially with some electric assistance.
What else is Yamaha up to?
Elsewhere on the Yamaha stand at Tokyo 2015 will be various bikes, scooters and leaning trikes plus, intriguingly, an ‘autonomous motorcycle-riding humanoid robot that combines motorcycle and robotics technologies.’ All sounds enchantingly mad. Watch this space for more news on the Yamaha 4Wheeler soon.