What does this new electric mill mean for motorcycles?

Yamaha has been dragging its feet on launching an all-electric motorcycle. From the PES1 to an electric trials bike, concepts have been abundant, but production models have been nil. Despite the lack of progress on a flagship electric platform, Iwata launched a series of electric crate motors in July, 2020.

Ranging from 35kW (47 horsepower) to 200kW (268 horsepower), Yamaha’s electric motor range suited to motorcycles and automobiles. Now, the company is building on its initial lineup by offering a new 350kW (469 horsepower) option for hyper-EVs or high-output applications. The Interior Permanent Magnet Synchronous Motor (IPMSM) operates at 800V and features oil-cooling.

Aligning with Yamaha’s existing crate motors, “The main feature of this newly developed electric motor is its compact construction that treats the mechanical and electrical components as a single entity, integrating the gear and inverter into one unit.”

Integral Powertrain is taking a similar approach with the Triumph’s TE-1 electric motorcycle project, but Yamaha seems to be one step ahead. By manufacturing the new motor to accommodate “multiple units on a single vehicle,” the brand enables developers to increase power output. Unlike internal combustion engines, chaining electric motors together isn’t a laborious process.

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To illustrate the system’s potential, Yamaha released a digital image showcasing four of its 350kW engines mounted to a car chassis. The two fore motors connect to the two aft motors via cables, balancing the automobile’s weight distribution and resulting in a tire-shredding 1400kW (1,877 horsepower) rating. Luckily, builders won’t have to wait long to construct their supercars, with Yamaha opening orders on the 350kW motor in April, 2021.

While the new motor serves a very select clientele, the mill’s modular quality piques our interest. If Yamaha can apply the technology to motorcycles, it could set industry standards for power output and market segments. We all know that Yamaha has been dragging its feet on a flagship electric motorcycle, but we’re hoping its new crate motor developments spur on Iwata’s efforts.

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