Yamaha's radical adjustable electric motorcycle
By Mike Hanlon
October 27, 2005
October 28, 2005 For the last 125 years, motorcycles have been made up of two wheels and a motor, and they have all been arranged as a wheel, a motor and another wheel – in that order – all of them. But the freedom afforded to designers by the in-wheel electric motors which technology has recently spawned will make for some interesting changes over the coming years and Yamaha is the first of the motorcycle manufacturers to seriously look at alternatives available in the next generation of motorcycles. The Deinonychus prototype takes full advantage of the greater chassis design freedom afforded by an in-wheel motor, and offers a completely new type of two-wheel-drive (2WD) EV (electric vehicle) with "Stretch & Shrink" functions in the vertical and horizontal directions. Yamaha’s exhibition at the Tokyo Motor Show will feature a number of futuristic commuter vehicles other than the Deinonychus including a fuel cell prototype, a hybrid prototype and a production electric scooter. For the record, a Deinonychus is a lightly built, fast-moving, agile, bipedal, killer dinosaur.
Yamaha’s booth at the 39th Tokyo Motor Show which opened October 22 took the theme of "The Art of Engineering" and displayed 21 models including the aforementioned special exhibition and planned production models.
In the EV (electric vehicle) and hybrid commuter categories, Yamaha will display the following models:
HV-01 (Special exhibition model: prototype)
This is a parallel hybrid scooter mounting an electric motor and gasoline engine. Despite the large body that gives a feeling of spacious comfort to the ride, this model has torque-y power development in the low rpm range that delivers the acceleration feeling of a bike one class above, as well as good fuel economy, environmental friendliness and performance that brings a real joy of riding. At the same time it has convenient functions that only hybrid bike offer, such as a "quiet mode" (running only on the electric motor) and a "push mode" that makes pushing the bike in places like parking lots (super low-power drive when off the bike)
DEINONYCHUS (Special exhibition model: prototype)
Taking full advantage of the greater chassis design freedom afforded by an in-wheel motor, this is Yamaha's proposal of a completely new type of two-wheel-drive (2WD) EV (electric vehicle) with "Stretch & Shrink" functions in the vertical and horizontal directions that brings a very Yamaha joy of riding. In addition to the great drivability of the 2WD it is possible to adjust not only the riding position but also the silhouette of the chassis to fit the rider's body size, riding environment, road surface conditions and personal preference. This is Yamaha's proposal of a bike of the future that offers the kind of personal fit only possible with an electric vehicle.
FC-me (Special exhibition model: prototype) Fuel cell systems using hydrogen gas as their fuel are most common but it is difficult to make a compact system of this type. The "Yamaha Direct Methanol Fuel Cell (DMFC) System" uses a liquid methanol-water solution as its fuel, which eliminates the need for a converter and a pressurized (fuel) tank and thus makes it possible to create a lightweight system for a small vehicle requiring power in the 1 kW or less range without compromising on power output characteristics.
Based on survey data gathered from licensed public-road use of our "FC06 PROTO," a prototype mounting the Yamaha DMFC system, the advanced fuel cell motorcycle model "FC-me" has now been created with improved performance in areas like reliability and running distance. By optimizing the control parameters for the fuel cell system, Yamaha's engineers have achieved an energy conversion rate for the FC-me that 1.5 times that of the FC06 PROTO, while re-evaluation of the body components has made possible a light machine weight of just 69 kg. A contract has been signed with Shizuoka Prefecture to put this model in practical use on a lease basis as of September 16 of this year.
Passol-L (Special exhibition model: planned for production) This is a second generation model inheriting the "Light, Smart, Clean and Silent" concept of the "Passol" (50cc class) released by Yamaha in November of 2002 (limited regional release, followed by nationwide release in May 2003) as the first EV (electric vehicle) running solely on electric power. Mounting a motor with the same performance as the EC-02 released in May of 2005 and battery with boosted energy concentration, this new model features improved start-up/mid-speed range and hill-climbing power and increased running distance per charge (about 25~30 km/55 kg rider in normal around-town riding).
As one aspect of Yamaha's corporate objective of "sustainable development," we are engaged in the development and market release of EVs (electric vehicles) that run solely on electricity as people-friendly vehicles with minimized environmental impact. The "EC-02" released in May of 2005 is Yamaha's second EV, following the Passol. This is a model developed to offer "design and performance that stimulates the spirit of fun in adults" while pursuing the qualities of gentleness, fun and ease of use that only an electric vehicle can provide.