Don't expect Yamaha to introduce a head-turning concept car during the 2019 edition of the biennial Tokyo Motor Show. The Japanese giant went to the event to confirm its exit from the automotive industry.
"Cars do not feature in our long-term plans anymore. That is a decision taken by president Hidaka for the foreseeable future, as we could not see a way to develop either car to make it stand out from the competition, which is very strong," spokesman Naoto Horie told British magazine Autocar.
The two cars he made reference to were previewed by concept cars respectively unveiled at the 2015 and the 2017 editions of the Tokyo show. Called Sports Ride (pictured), the first arrived as a 1,650-pound, Mazda MX-5 Miata-sized coupe with a low-slung design. It was built using the iStream production process developed by Gordon Murray using technology borrowed from Formula One. The second was called Cross Hub, a compact pickup developed to haul two motorcycles.
Rumors of the design studies reaching production hovered around the automotive industry, but the on-again, off-again concepts will remain one-offs. Yamaha and Murray decided they can't profitably rival the world's biggest automakers, not when cars are becoming increasingly expensive to design.
"The sports car in particular had great appeal for us as enthusiasts, but the marketplace is particularly difficult. We now see other opportunities," Horie concluded. He didn't name the other opportunities, but Autocar added the firm prefers to focus on bike-like concepts. Yamaha also makes a wide variety of products including motorcycles, musical instruments, and jet skis.
The decision marks the end of a quiet, decades-long presence in the automotive industry. Yamaha helped Toyota develop the 2000GT unveiled in 1965, and it manufactured the model between 1967 and 1970. 351 example were built. More recently, it made the 4.4-liter V8 engine offered in a handful of Volvo models between 2005 and 2011, including the original XC90 and the second-generation S80.