Back in August, on his rarely updated blog, renowned auto designer Gordon Murray was touting his T.25 gas and T.27 electric concept city cars. He was saying his idea to build low-cost minis that can fit three vehicles in a standard parking space had been bought by an undisclosed customer.
Well, the customer is no longer a secret. This week at Tokyo Motor Show Yamaha Motor Co. Ltd. (TYO:7272) released details of its Motiv city car concept intended to be built with Murray’s iStream manufacturing and design process. This so-called stabilized tube-reinforced exoframe advanced manufacturing involves using low-cost composite panels that work similarly to carbon fiber to distribute the load with a strong, light, modular frame.
Murry, who is based in the U.K., had already proved the concept with the McLaren F1 high performance racer, the first car to apply monocoque construction similar to plane fuselages where the shell and frame are the same. (Although in the F1’s case, it’s all done with carbon fiber.) Merging body and frame significantly streamlines the manufacturing process, lowering costs while meeting city-car crash-test standards.
Yamaha, known for motorcycles and musical instruments not cars, has become the first company to say it’s planning to use Murray’s iStream, though the concept it reveals differs significantly from Murray’s unique concepts that featured three seats, a centered steering wheel (rather than on the left or right side) and a canopy that opens forward to allow passenger access.
It’s not clear right now if, like Murray’s T cars, the Yamaha Motiv would be available as both electric or gas, or even if the car will ever be made. But Murray insists Yamaha is “completely embraced the principles of iStream.” Yamaha and Murray have been in talks since 2008, and they have been collaborating on the Motiv, so it would be surprising if the company doesn’t adopt the manufacturing process in one form or another.