Unlike some of its competitors, motorcycles were Yamaha's first love. The very first product Yamaha Motor Company released after separating from Yamaha Corporation in 1955 was a motorcycle, the little YA-1. Produced between 1955 and 1958, the YA-1 was powered by a sturdy little 125-cc, two-stroke, air-cooled, single-cylinder engine and was ultimately nicknamed the Red Dragonfly. The same year it launched, the motorcycle competed in two races in Japan and placed first in both in the 125cc category.
Yamaha has since branched out and in addition to motorcycles, a whole selection of boats, engines, and ATVs rocks the brand's badge. Did you know that we also got this close to getting a Yamaha electric car as well?
While Team Blue mainly specializes in all things powersports, it does have a small legacy of its own in the automotive industry. It notably signed a deal with Ford in the mid-80s to develop and produce the Taurus SHO V6 engine. Then in the early 2000s, Yamaha teamed up with Toyota to develop the Lexus LFA’s beast of an engine, a 4.8L V10 engine rated at 552 horsepower.
When rumors surfaced that Yamaha was juggling with the idea of creating its own car, it didn't come as much of a surprise. It started in 2013, when Yamaha unveiled its first proprietary car concept, the Motiv, a two-door subcompact. It then unveiled the Sports Ride Concept two years later at the 2015 Tokyo Motor Show. Last but not least was the quirky Cross Hub Concept ute that showed up in Tokyo in 2017. That was it. Despite the buzz, none of these concepts ever made it to production and rumors of a Yamaha car eventually died down.
Gallery: Yamaha EV Design Registration
The European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) recently published a series of patented designs that confirm that at one point in time, Yamaha was pretty serious about producing a car. It even looks like the prototype was designed to use an electric powertrain, if the absence of an exhaust system is any indication. Sadly, the patent was filed back in 2018, and the company has since stepped down and changed its plans.
“Cars do not feature in our long-term plans anymore,” Yamaha representative Naoto Horie told UK publication Autocar back in October, 2019.
No Yamaha car for you! Let’s be honest though: the car looks really cool. Imagine seeing a car like that on the road? Depending on how good Yamaha’s electric technology turns out to be, that car would surely have given Tesla a run for its money.