One of the stars at the Tokyo motor show last month was the Sports Ride concept, a collaboration between Yamaha and Gordon Murray Design. Mechanical details were few and far between, but Yamaha has a long history of building high performance internal combustion engines. While it is known mostly for its motorcycle prowess, it was a major contributor to the engine in the legendary Toyota 2000 GT and was tapped by Ford to design and build the cylinder heads for the high performance V-6 engines in the Taurus SHO. It has even worked with Mercury on high output marine engines.
The heart of the Sports Ride concept is the iStream carbon fiber chassis pioneered by Gordon Murray Design. It features a sandwich made from two thin sheets of carbon fiber surrounding a honeycomb core. Conceptually, the process is very much like making cardboard, except it uses carbon fiber instead of paper. The result is extremely strong but incredibly light.
Carbon fiber is great for making one or two items, but it can be costly to use in volume production. GMD says its iStream system can be cost effective for production runs of 10,000 pieces or more. Target weight for the concept is a mere 1,650 pounds. How light is that? Think of a Mazda Miata that weighs half a ton less than the current car.
A new report by Australia’s Motoring hints the Sports Ride concept could be headed for production. While some of its more daring design features might have to be toned down for the actual road car, the deliciousness of that 2 seat cockpit will likely remain unchanged. The car would be built by GMD alongside its Motiv city car, which uses the same carbon fiber central structure.
What will make it go? In Tokyo, the thinking was that any one of a number of Yamaha motorcycle engines could be used. Others speculate that an electric drivetrain may be chosen, since electric cars are all the rage these days. That seems likely, though, since Yamaha is currently building their own EVs and their partner in this, F1 legend Gordon Murray, has explicitly stated that hybrids are not the way forward.
Yamaha Sport Ride Concept