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Yamaha to electrify Tokyo Motor Show


20 Yamaha models on show, including AI-assisted electric motorcycle and a range of new e-bikes

The Tokyo Motor Show officially begins at the end of next week, and Japan’s automakers are already lining up the technologies for display. As with many of its compatriots, Japan’s Yamaha Motor has been slow to adopt electrification. Two flashy concepts were made in 2013 – the PES1 and PES2 – but neither has made it particularly far, although there have been recent rays of hope. And while Yamaha has been working with Honda on the E-KIZUNA project, it has remained mostly quiet on the EV front.

The Tokyo Motor Show might mark something of a change. In a recent update the company said it would be showing 20 models, including six world premieres, and that these would include electrically power-assisted bicycles, scooters, motorcycles and more.

Most interesting is perhaps the MOTOROiD (pictured above), a machine that’s part e-bike and part AI experiment. Yamaha says it wants to offer riders new experiences of “Kando” –a Japanese term for the simultaneous feelings of deep satisfaction and intense excitement that comes with encountering something of exceptional value. Marketing nonsense aside, the suggestion is that much like other connected vehicles, the bike will recognise its owner and be capable of interacting with them. Think something very similar to the self-balancing technology previewed recently by Honda.

Little else is known so far, but this so-called “unleashed prototype” could be one of the more interesting things on show.

Another concept is a new kind of Leaning Multi-Wheel (LMW) vehicle. Dubbed the MWC-4, it is powered by an electric motor equipped with a “range-extender” (aka ICE) and uses “attitude-control technology” – whatever that is. The result is something very close to a Renault Twizy.

Yamaha MWC-4
Yamaha MWC-4

Finally, there will also be a new e-bike model based on the YPJ-MTB Concept model exhibited at the Show in 2015. This uses a Yamaha PW-X drive unit and is “much closer to a production-ready model,” suggesting you might be able to get your hands on one in the near future. Three other YPJ models will be on display, all using the PW-SE drive unit: the YPJ-ER “crossover” (multi-purpose) road bike, the YPJ-EC flat-bar road bike and the YPJ-TC touring (trekking) bike.

It might not be transformative, but the Tokyo event could go to show that Yamaha is not out of the game yet when it comes to electric innovation.


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