EXCLUSIVE: Yamaha developing all-new electric 2W platform for India, global markets

by Amit Panday 12 Sep 2018

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Engineers at the Yamaha Motor Research & Development India (YMRI) along with their counterparts at Yamaha Motor Corporation (YMC), Japan are jointly developing an all-new electric vehicle platform(s) for India and other global markets, confirmed Yasuo Ishihara, Managing Director, YMRI.

It is learnt that about 100 engineers from teams located in Japan, India and possibly other locations are contributing to the engineering and development of the electric vehicles at Yamaha. The company’s global R&D teams are also understood to have identified about a dozen global component suppliers, who now are part of the ongoing product development.

Few months ago, YMRI had confirmed conducting a feasibility study to learn about the consumer requirements, behavior and the Indian climate conditions critical to developing the electric two-wheelers for the local markets.

Talking to Autocar Professional on the sidelines of the 58th SIAM annual convention in New Delhi recently, Ishihara shared, “The development of an all-new electric vehicle platform is underway. We always want to start a new product based on a global platform. It (electric two-wheeler) won’t be only for the India market. It will be for the other global markets too. Such a global (product) platform strategy we have (for the electric two-wheelers under development).”

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He further added, “We are setting up alliances with some key suppliers (for EVs). That will hopefully fetch some good results for Yamaha’s India business of electric vehicles in the future. I wont be able to share more details on this subject.”

Yamaha already manufactures and retails electric vehicles in countries such as Japan, Taiwan and others. The company has recently forayed into the power assist electric bicycle category and it currently retails them in several global markets including the USA.

Ishihara, who has been to Taiwan to study the electric two-wheeler ecosystem, disclosed that Yamaha is considering the battery-swapping model as one of the potential solutions for the EV charging infrastructure.

“Yes, we are considering the battery-swapping model as one of the energy options. When the customer wants to charge his EV with a swappable battery, he would take a similar amount of time as he currently takes while filling in the gas at the fuel pumps,” he said.

It can be recalled that recently Autocar Professional broke news that Suzuki Motorcycle India is developing an electric scooter and plans to launch the first generation vehicle in India by 2020-21. Yamaha now appears to be working on a similar product plan with hopefully 2021-22 as the tentative timeline to introduce its indigenously developed first generation electric vehicle(s) in the domestic market.

Commenting on the same, Ishihara noted, “Our global headquarters follow a policy to not announce any forward looking plans. However, without disclosing any details, all I can say is that it won’t be much different (from Suzuki’s plans).”

Although whether Yamaha is developing an electric bike or an electric scooter remains to be seen, it is understood that most major two-wheeler OEMs will aggressively eye the electric vehicle space once the BS VI emission norms are implemented in 2020.

At the 58th SIAM annual convention recently, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari had urged the automakers to work towards achieving a 15 percent electric vehicle penetration in next five years. The two-wheeler segment, which accounts for more than 80 percent of the total domestic auto industry sales every year, will be the key segment contributor in achieving the same.

Major domestic players such as Hero MotoCorp, Bajaj Auto, TVS Motor Company, Suzuki Motorcycle India, India Yamaha Motor and even Royal Enfield has publicly mentioned about developing electric two-wheelers for the Indian subcontinent.

Meanwhile at Yamaha, Yamaha Motor Research & Development India (YMRI), which is a 100 percent subsidiary of YMC, has deployed a widely known INDRA concept for engineering products suitable for the Indian conditions. The India-bound EVs are understood to be part of the same. YMRI plays a pivotal role of providing strong R&D and development support to India Yamaha Motor for its domestic as well as export markets. YMRI is the fifth overseas R&D headquarters for YMC following Italy, Taiwan, China and Thailand.

Also read: Yamaha India has started researching on hybrid, electric vehicles and IoT: Yasuo Ishihara

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