Yamaha Motiv: Gordon Murray's City Car Partner Revealed

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Ever had to keep a really big secret?

Respected automotive engineer Gordon Murray has: Having known for quite some time who one of the biggest customers for his highly-efficient iStream production process was, Murray has been unable to reveal it to us all.

Now that secret is officially out. Announced at the Tokyo Motor Show, Yamaha is revealed to be the first company adopting iStream, and will use it to build the tiny Motiv city car--the closest true competitor for the Smart Fortwo the market has seen.

The car itself is a little different from the T.25 and T.27 concepts revealed through Gordon Murray Design, though Gordon Murray himself has previously said that other cars were in the works, with projects tailored to the companies adopting them.

The two earlier city cars had three-seat layouts inspired by Murray's work on the McLaren F1 supercar and even a forward-hinged canopy, but Yamaha's vehicle is more conventional--with side-by-side seating and two regular doors. It's sure to appeal to a few more people as a result.

While still a concept vehicle at this stage, Yamaha promises the car is lightweight but highly rigid and strong.

It features independent suspension all around, a rear-wheel drive layout and an aerodynamic body--and should be as fun to drive as Yamaha's motorcycle expertise implies. Indeed, those who've driven early T.25 and T.27 prototypes say the cars feel far more lively than Smart's current Fortwo.

Engine choice is currently open--but both gasoline and electric options could be explored, Murray's iStream process accommodating both. The concept vehicle is electric, and weighs just 1,609 lbs.

iStream itself will be the star of the show, vastly reducing the cost and time associated with building such a vehicle, while tube frame construction makes it near-endlessly adaptable. These should contribute to a lower bottom line.

As Autocar reports, Murray describes the partnership--that began as far back as 2008--as "a dream", adding that Yamaha "has completely embraced the principles of iStream".

Autocar also suggests the car, if produced, would sell for around the same as a Smart, reflecting a semi-premium market position. Final production is unconfirmed though--that decision is out of Murray's hands.

Want more news from Tokyo? Head over to our Tokyo Motor Show hub page.

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