Legendary McLaren F1-designer Gordon Murray has been obsessed with his T.25 and T.27 city cars lately, and now it looks like engine-maker Yamaha could put some of Murray's fascinating ideas into production with the Yamaha MOTIV. Just think of it as a Smart Car you'd want to drive.
Murray's latest revolutionary babies are supposed to hit the dealerships in 2016, but in the meantime, Yamaha decided to get a piece of the action and commissioned him to come up with something better than Daimler's Smart or Toyota's IQ. We know Yamaha for building bikes, ATVs and brilliant engines, but getting into the car business is something new from them.
The MOTIV and MOTIV.e are based on Gordon Murray Design's iStream building process, which uses a tubular frame reinforced with sheets of composites, while the outer skin is made from non-load bearing impact resistant plastic. Easy to build and lighter while also stronger than the regular welded steel cars.
Gone is Murray's three-seater layout, but his patented iLink strut-type independent rear suspension system and the thin shell composite seats remain, while the engine is mounted low in front of the rear axle. It can be either a 33 hp electric motor (thus the MOTIV.e) built by Zytec, or Yamaha's 1-liter three cylinder engine driving the rear wheels through a six-speed dual clutch transmission.
The 8.8-kWh battery pack should give it a a 0-60 mph time of 15 seconds and a range of more than 100 miles with a three-hour recharge time from a domestic socket, or one-hour with something punchier.
The gasoline version should have around 80 horsepower on tap, giving it a power-to-weight ratio of about 100 horsepower per ton and a top speed of around 100 mph.
If it makes the cut, don't expect a budget car, but more like something in the Smart's price range. Murray says 200,000 can be made annually using the iStream process.