Yamaha HV-X Hybrid Motorcycle Debuts in Tokyo

Yamaha Hybrid MotorcycleYamaha didn’t pull any punches at last week’s 2009 Tokyo AutoMotoShow, bringing no less than five (5!) innovative new eco-conscious motorcycle concepts to a predominantly car-centric show in a bid to monopolize 2-wheeled press coverage and establish Yamaha as the leader in 2-wheeled hybrid technology.

Did it work? Maybe!

More about the seemingly production-ready HV-X hybrid concept—including video—after the jump…

By far the most promising (from a production standpoint) of Yamaha’s five concept bikes (shown here) is the new HV-X.

Yamaha HV-X Hybrid


Based on Yamaha’s class-leading (IMO) TMax 500 chassis, the HV-X concept defies motorcycling conventions. It’s got a scooter-like automatic transmission, and an engine mimics the classic “lay-down” orientation of modern Vespas and vintage Honda Cubs… but Yamaha mounted it rigid to the chassis, following the practice of their own award-winning line of R1 and R6 sportbikes. Similarly, the rider’s feet are flat, but his legs straddle the HV-X’s advanced lithium-ion battery pack—which (rather appropriately) occupies the space motorcycle designers typically reserve for a fuel tank in a posture that over-30 riders will immediately recognize as the classic UJM (“standard”) seating position.

The video lacks a decent soundtrack, for sure, but from 1:35 on, things get really interesting from a rider’s perspective…

…the HV-X is much more than some boring, green-washed eco-muter. From the relatively silent video, at least, Yamaha seems intent on reinventing the UJM on a future-proof, hybrid platform.

The original UJMs, bikes like Honda’s CB750, were themselves capable “all-arounders” built using modern engines and proven chassis. They were truly practical vehicles that could be used as inexpensive commuters, middle-distance tourers, and—in the right hands—capable canyon carvers. Yamaha couldn’t have picked a more ambitious goal!

In an effort to meet that goal, the video shows Yamaha engineers hard at work, operating the HV-X in full-electric and combined gas/electric modes that seem reminiscent of GM’s Chevy Volt project (as explained by this Popular Mechanics article from 2007).

Very exciting stuff! If Yamaha can get the system working and get the bikes on the road first, they may enjoy the same kind of technology leadership that Nissan is hoping to achieve with pure EVs.

SO, did Yamaha pull off a bit of a marketing coup by introducing four motorcycles at a car show? Did they reinvent the “standard” genre of motorcycles? Is it just a neat scooter?

No idea. I just know that I want one!

Image Credits: Yamaha Motor.

Jo Borrás

I've been in the auto industry 1997, and write for a number of blogs in the IM network. You can also find me on Twitter, at my Volvo fansite, out on two wheels, or chasing my kids around Oak Park, IL.