Looking Towards An EV Future
Yamaha Motor’s automotive business began with the co-development and production of the Toyota 2000GT supercar launched in 1967. Since then, the company has had a stellar record of achievements, supplying powerful, high-revving engines to Toyota Motor Corporation and other automakers. Now Yamaha is turning its attention to high performance EV motors.
The automotive business’ distinct journey of growth came by leveraging its two strengths of high technical expertise and a uniquely Yamaha sense for producing emotion-stirring experiences behind the wheel. The development, machining, and manufacturing capabilities and techniques honed by the business over the past six decades are now poised to play an important role in the upcoming era of carbon neutrality.
Toyota’s 2000GT Supercar was the first vehicle in Yamaha Motor’s automotive business and each was hand-built at Iwata Factory #1. Released in 1967 it was developed in collaboration with Toyota Motor Co., Ltd. and is a car forever etched into the history of Japanese sports cars. Yamaha Motor hand-built eight cars per month, shipping 337 cars over the course of four years.
Yamaha Motor began researching and exploring the automobile industry more than 60 years ago back in the late 1950s. After engineers with the Yamaha Technological Research Institute toured automobile factories in Europe and the United States, they were inspired to begin developing high-performance sports cars. In the end, the company was unable to bring a vehicle to market, but Yamaha completed a two-seater prototype in 1960 using a 1,953cc, liquid-cooled, 4-cylinder, DOHC engine.
The knowledge and technology Yamaha acquired through this challenge bloomed further through the technical partnership it formed with Toyota Motor Co., Ltd. (today’s Toyota Motor Corporation) in 1965. When the development of the 2000GT commenced, Yamaha was primarily responsible for upgrading the engine’s performance, detailed chassis engineering, and even the actual production of the car. This project was the first page in Yamaha’s history in the automotive sector. Our successful partnership with Toyota has continued for more than 50 years, with Yamaha often tasked with the development and production of high-revving, high-power engines, including the exotic V10 powerplant in the Lexus LFA supercar.
Furthermore, from the late 1980s through the 1990s, Yamaha took on a new challenge by entering the Formula 1 World Championship as an engine supplier. A byproduct of this was the OX99-11 supercar, which packaged a detuned F1 engine in an aerodynamic body. Yamaha embraces a unique approach to automobile research and worked to grow its business in automotive engines and related parts. Along the way, we built a successful track record of supplying engines to leading car brands like Ford and Volvo.
Yamaha’s EV Future
Yamaha Motor’s automotive business supplies engines and related parts to automakers based both inside and outside Japan and is one of the few B2B operations in our portfolio. What sets Yamaha apart in the field is proven technologies and expertise and a proposal-based business style, something unique even within the company.
At a time when electrification efforts are accelerating to achieve carbon neutrality, the resources the automotive business has at its disposal today, namely its technologies for development, machining, and manufacturing, will play an important role in reaching this goal. One example of this is how Yamaha accelerated the development of electric motors for vehicular applications by utilizing the technologies and sense we have honed over the years, announcing in 2021 that the company was accepting requests for the commissioned development of prototype electric motors. Things have picked up speed since then, such as Yamaha being tapped to supply Subaru Technical International (STI)–Subaru’s motorsports and performance division–with electric motor units for hyper-EVs aimed at the future of motorsport.
The potential within Yamaha’s high-output density electric motors is not limited to the land either; their applicability extends into other fields as well. IHI Power Systems Co., Ltd. recently commissioned Yamaha to develop an electric motor for a Z-drive marine propulsion unit meant for tugboats, while in aviation, the electric motors scheduled for delivery to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) will be used in the development of hybrid aircraft propulsion systems.
While initially created for electric automobiles, electric motors from Yamaha are driving expectations for the future higher, whether it’s on the land, the sea, or in the air.