British automotive designer, Gordon Murray, has teamed up with the Yamaha Motor Co. of Japan to create a unique electric drive city car. Murray is known for his revolutionary designs, right from Formula 1 cars to high-performance road cars like the Mclaren F1. Murray has also had a vision to build eco-friendly, fuel-efficient city cars. His latest creation comes in the form of the Yamaha MOTIV.e electric car.

Built by Yamaha, the MOTIV.e was unveiled at the 2013 Tokyo Motor Show . It was one of the crown jewels of the Yamaha stands this year. The increased urban traffic and the need for compact, fuel-efficient cars has resulted into the creation of the MOTIV.e city car.

Click past the jump to read more on the Yamaha MOTIV.e City Car

  • 2016 Yamaha MOTIV e
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  • Horsepower @ RPM:
  • 0-60 time:
    15 sec. (Est.)
  • Top Speed:
    100 mph (Est.)
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2016 Yamaha MOTIV e Exterior AutoShow
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Designed to be a two-door micro-mini, the Yamaha MOTIV.e has all the design requirements of a city runabout. The short overhangs and a large glasshouse allow for easy parking in tight spaces. The aim was to reduce the overall footprint of the car and maximize usable interior space. The first thing that comes to mind is the smart fortwo with a rear profile pretty similar that of the smart.

The MOTIV.e measures 2.69 meters (105.9 inches) in length and is 1.47 meters (57.9 inches) wide and 1.48 meters (58.3 inches) in height. The front has a rather short snout with a sleek, blanked-out grille with long-elliptical headlights and integrated LED turn lights. The frontal curve blends into the side profile in a semi-circular fashion when viewed from the top. Towards the rear, the round-ish, stretched windshield has an almost 90-degree rake angle. The taillights are a simple round LED clusters with triangular pods that again blend into the sides, leaving a wedge.

The car uses a modern composite structures to provide rigidity. Steel tubing along with composites make up the framework of the vehicle, and the body is made up of weight-saving composite plastics with a large glass greenhouse sitting on the top.


2016 Yamaha MOTIV e Interior AutoShow
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The interior of the Gordon Murray-designed Yamaha MOTIV.e City car is simple and functional. The two-seat micro-mini has a tiny, three-spoke steering wheel with a single-dial instrument cluster. Two round A/C vents sit on either side of the dash and are finished in metallic silver. The steering wheel grip has been given some red accents to help liven up the interior a little. The switch gear is situated on a horizontal extrusion running along the length of the dashboard.


2016 Yamaha MOTIV e Exterior AutoShow
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The drivetrain of the MOTIV.e comprises of a single electric motor with a peak output of 25 kW (33.5 horsepower). The motor powers the rear wheels via a single-speed transmission, and it delivers up to 660 pound-feet of peak torque. Powering the system an 8.8 kWh battery pack, which should give it a total range of over 100 miles. A battery of this size can fully charged in 3 hours on a domestic-use plug or in 1 hour with a quick-charge.

The claimed 0-to-60 mph sprint is 15 seconds, and the car is rated for a top speed of over 65 mph, which is decent enough for a city car of its size.

Suspension and Brakes

The lightweight, composite structure sits atop a rear-motor-rear-wheel drive layout. The batteries are mounted lower down in the belly of the car for an overall low center of gravity. Independent suspension has been employed on all four corners, and the framework of the car is designed in such a fashion that it can support different chassis designs.


Yamaha has not disclosed the price of the MOTIV.e as for yet.


smart fortwo Electric Drive

2013 Smart Fortwo electric drive Exterior
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The smart fortwo ED is a micro-mini based on the same principle as the Yamaha MOTIV.e with an electric motor shoved into its belly. The 17.7 kWh battery in the Smart gives it for a respectable range of 95 miles, and its top speed is set at about 78 mph. Though it lacks in top speed, the 0-to-60 mph sprint is decent at 11.5 seconds, making it quicker than the MOTIV.e.

From the outside, the smart ED looks like any other smart fortwo. On the inside, it’s not as minimalist as the Yamaha and packs some decent features.

With an expected price tag of around $25,000, the smart fortwo ED does not fall in the "cheap & cheerful" category. The Yamaha should be priced a tad lower than the smart if it arrives in the U.S. market.


2016 Yamaha MOTIV e Exterior AutoShow
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The Gordon Murray-designed Yamaha MOTIV.e may not be the last word in electric mobility, but it does have a simplistic charm to it. It is city car meant to do its job and that is ferry you around crowded city streets without making too much fuss about it. There are better alternatives to the Yamaha, however at its price point, we don’t see anything wrong with the MOTIV.e city car. It has the modern looks, space for a couple, decent speed to drive around city and a range of 100 miles.

  • Leave it
    • Slightly expensive than normal gasoline powered cars
    • Little room to carry your shopping
    • A touch of McLaren bloodline is a cool talking point


2016 Yamaha MOTIV e Exterior AutoShow
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In the current era of urban traffic and environmental problems there is increasing demand for downsizing and fuel efficient cars. MOTIV.e satisfies these demands by utilising ground breaking manufacturing and materials technology while delivering a new level of driver experience which emanates from the Yamaha Motor Company DNA.

The MOTIV.e is created from Yamaha Motor’s multi-wheel history and experience (2 wheel - 3 wheel and 4 wheel technology). Yamaha Motor Company has always been dedicated to craftsmanship with a focus on ’quality mobility’. The MOTIV.e builds on this philosophy and incorporates Formula One heritage, inspiration from motorcycle design and the latest technology to deliver an exciting and high quality driving experience. The MOTIV.e delivers a new level of personal mobility.

Yamaha Motor Company chose Gordon Murray Design to cooperate in the design and development of the MOTIV.e which utilises Gordon Murray Design’s revolutionary iStream® manufacturing technology. Yamaha Motor Company and Gordon Murray Design are a perfect fit as a partnership with both company’s Formula One and technology backgrounds.

The iStream® manufacturing system which incorporates Formula One composite technology delivers new levels of lightweight, safety, vehicle dynamics and manufacturing flexibility alongside low environmental impact.

The MOTIV.e design reflects Yamaha’s rich heritage in high quality lifestyle products while introducing a technical and dynamic shape which is inspired by Yamaha Motor’s Motorcycle products. The iStream® design is centred on a steel frame incorporating bonded composite monocoque panels to produce a lightweight, rigid safety cell. All independent suspension and low unsprung weight delivers new levels of ride and handling. The all-new electric powertrain has been designed using ’state of the art’ materials and technology.

The MOTIV.e represents a new starting point for urban mobility vehicles and sets new standards in the ultra compact 4 wheeler segment.

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