The competition is just too strong.
Yamaha is mostly known for building motorcycles and off-road vehicles but the Japanese company has roots as a musical instrument manufacturer and has even dabbled with cars. You may remember the Volvo XC90 used to have a Yamaha V8 which was also used in the Noble M600 supercar. Using its expertise as a musical instrument tuner, Yamaha even played a crucial role in the exhaust tuning of possibly the best-sounding supercar of all time, the Lexus LFA.
Yamaha clearly knows how to help develop a car and the company has even produced its own concept vehicles like the Sports Ride, a lightweight, two-seater sports car, and the Cross Hub, a unique three-seater pickup truck with a center-seat layout. But according to a recent interview with Autocar, neither of these cool concepts will make it to production.
Yamaha was expected to use Gordon Murray's iStream carbon fiber production process, which enables the use of carbon fiber at a lower cost. Murray, who is most famous for his work on the legendary McLaren F1, has been looking for a partner to build around 1,000 to 350,000 cars per year using this process. He initially pitched a small city car built using carbon fiber but also helped Yamaha design the Sports Ride Concept.
Company spokesperson, Naoto Horie, confirmed all of Yamaha's car projects from past Tokyo Motor Shows would not proceed. Instead, the company will focus on bike-based mobility concepts like the ones showed off at this year's show.
"Cars do not feature in our long-term plans anymore," said Horie. "That is a decision taken by President Hidaka for the foreseeable future, as we could not see a way to develop either car to make it stand out from the competition, which is very strong. The sports car, in particular, had great appeal for us as enthusiasts, but the marketplace is particularly difficult. We now see other opportunities."
This is sad news because we would love relished seeing Yamaha enter the sports car market to give a new and unique option in the segment. Sadly, sports car sales aren't enough to justify production in most cases, which is why companies like Toyota and BMW have partnered to split the development costs.