Remember the Gordon Murray-designed T.27 and T.27 electric city vehicles? Well those vehicles were built to demonstrate Murray’s new iStream design and assembly system, designed to streamline production. Yamaha announced that it would be the first automaker to embrace Murray’s system, producing a line of gas and electric-powered city cars aimed at Europe.
The Yamaha Motiv, as it will be called, still requires production approval from the tippy-top, but things seem solid enough to make this major announcement. Murray and Yamaha first discussed such a vehicle 5 years ago, but the project didn’t really begin until 2011, as the curtain of the global recession finally started to lift.
What sets apart Murray’s iStream process is the elimination of metal stamping and spot-welding vehicles together, instead settling for a simple tubular frame surrounded by composite materials making up the walls, roof, and floor. The outside body panels provide no structural support to the car, allowing them to be easily changed for different looks and models, and the body panels are glued onto the car, rather than bolted on, saving weight and time during the assembly process.
The Motiv-e will use a 33-horsepower electric motor allowing for a top speed of 65 mph, and a 0 to 60 mph time of “less than 15 seconds.” The gas-powered Motiv will use an exclusive three-cylinder engine connected to a six-speed dual-clutch transmission powering the rear wheels. 0 to 60 mph should take less than ten seconds, and the gas-powered two-seater will have a top speed of 100 mph.
Pricing hasn’t been set, but should fall in the same range as the similarly-sized SmartCar, starting around $12,000 and reaching over $19,000 depending on the model and options. While Yamaha is only looking at Europe for its new small-car effort, if successful Murray’s new design process could be copied and adapted for other markets…including America.