Yamaha Embraces EV Power

Toyota’s 2JZ-GTE. The 1J-GTE. The 3S-GTE. The 4A-GE. The 2ZZ-GE. Lexus’s 2UR-GSE from the IS F, RC F and more recently the GS F. And of course the 1LR-GUE V10 in the LFA. These are some examples where Yamaha – who are most well known for their motorcycles and musical instruments – have been called in to engineer automobile engines. And as we enter the third decade of the 21st century, Yamaha aren’t waiting for EV technology to evolve without having a proper crack at it themselves.

Yesterday, the Japanese company – which Toyota owns a small stake in – announced that their relationship with the motor car – which can be traced all the way back to the straight-six engine in the famed Toyota 2000GT – will continue as the shift to EVs grows.


At first glance, you might have assumed that we’ve started reporting on autonomous lawnmowers, but this is actually what Yamaha’s motor unit for cars looks like.


Yamaha have been developing this customizable system for some time, and as you can see in the video above, they now have a prototype setup using an Alfa Romeo 4C as a test bed for the technology.


Currently, power output can range anywhere from 35kW to 200kW, and possibly more as EV technologies like as batteries, charging and control units continue to evolve. Of course, all-wheel drive applications will be catered for too; a 200kW unit at each axle is what we are seeing with some of the new crop of EV SUVs hitting the market. That is a scope of around 47hp to 268bhp, so imagine a world where you can bolt power on, any axle you like. That’s got to be a pretty exciting prospect for the aftermarket, especially as we’re seeing classic car ownership at odds with environmentalist ideals.


Given the compactness of these drive units and how neatly batteries can be packaged, creating fun and affordable electric performance cars is the next challenge manufacturers will face once the move to this propulsion has become more widespread. And then what next? Will we see the aftermarket adopt this technology?

I can imagine this being a way to retain the ‘soul’ of a car and still be able to use it in towns where combustion engines may become outlawed. On the flip-side, could this be a way to add power and keep up with modern traffic without compromising an original engine? Not everyone wants to turbo or supercharge an engine to increase output, so who knows, it might be an option in the future to just add a motor to an axle. Or even two.

Electric motors have been around for centuries (and used in cars since the early 1900s), but throughout this time their basic design has remained the same. So what’s really exciting is what new innovation Yamaha might be able to bring to the table.

At the beginning of this story I rattled off some of the iconic Toyota performance engines that Yamaha have had a big hand in developing. It’s highly likely that we’ll be able to add some Yamaha-developed electric motors to the list in the years and decades to come, and that’s pretty cool.


It certainly makes me feel better knowing that Yamaha are getting involved with this shift to electric vehicles. Because, if there’s one company out there that knows how to engineer inspiring power-plants, it’s this one. And seeing as Yamaha are very good at making stuff sound nice, maybe injecting a bit of aural emotion into the whole experience is something they can figure out, too.

Now, while we are imagining the future, which modern car do you think will become a classic? How would you incorporate this EV tech to boost power?

Dino Dalle Carbonare
Instagram: speedhunters_dino



Comments are closed.


by Oldest
by Best by Newest by Oldest

Finally. A cure for my FR-S's torque dip.


The more I read about this kind of stuff, the more I'm interested in implementing one of those supplementary systems, the ones where they sandwich an electric motor between the engine and the gearbox. There's a guy racing a glorious atmo 350Z in the US who's putting one in with an i8 motor and custom battery pack. Obviously, that's megadollars, but do you reckon it might become something more viable in the future on the back of technology like this?


It's good to know the brands putting their most into EV tech so that down the line we'll know the best from the rest. I personally think it's very safe to say that enthusiasts and engineers will simply find their niche with the new tech. I mean... tire compounds, aero tricks, suspension configs, etc. aren't exactly being tossed out like the ICE is; modders will mod. With that said, we need audiophile nerds to make fake engine sounds that are actually worth while lol.

Suzuki is similar to Yamaha in that they make motor vehicles, but also keyboards lol. Suzuki has not exactly excited US drivers with their offerings. I've always wondered how reliable and/or ripe for modifying the motors actually are in their cars here.


Think of all the wheezy crappy engines that ruined cars in the late 20th century. Bolt a 150kw motor on each end and you get the car it always wanted to be.

Dino Dalle Carbonare

It seems the move to EV drivelines with their inherent low center of gravity is like a new path to even better handling refinement. Now all they have to do is figure out how to make them batteries lighter!


is it just me or that 4C pic looks like a screenshot from Gran Turismo game?

tho it is interesting that Yamaha used a car from another brand as their testbed for their new technology.


When has Yamaha made a car engine that DIDN'T go in another company's car?


They partnered with Ford on the SHO...


Why is that weird?
1: They don't build cars
2: If you are going to use it as the only propulsion it is easier to fit in a car where the engine, gearbox and driven wheels occupy the same compartment. Therefor it would only leave a FWD/MR/RR layout as viable options if you want to use it as a bolt in (which I'm assuming is the case looking at the rubber mounts.


as one comment said below, there is Lotus, which also produces cars like the 4C and have a relationship with Toyota as Lotus uses their engines.


Yes, but Yamaha has no relationship with Lotus whatsoever, so I do not understand what you are getting at? Yes they use Toyota engines which Yamaha has developed, but thats like saying I have nike shoelaces in Adidas Shoes....

As far as I know Lotus does not produce the 4C whatsoever? Would be highly unlikely, as the lotus has an aluminum (bonded) frame, where as the 4C has a composite frame only using aluminum subframes.


They can't exactly put it in one of their own cars, given that they don't make any. The Alfa is probably the closest thing to their Sports Ride concept.



is it just me or that 4C pic looks like a screenshot from Gran Turismo game?

Not just you, but I suspect the issue is the full tinted window and windscreen which throws it off.

And agree the odd 4c selection; not even a Lotus Elise (which had the 2zz)....

Dino Dalle Carbonare

They don't make cars. But they should.


Is it just me, or did they also make sure that motor looks F'in cool!

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Thank you for noticing that. I have no idea what that stuff around the motor is, but they at least made it look attractive, futuristic, cool even. Hope they set a trend!


I'm all for electric cars as long as I can legally own and drive an FD on the weekends

Dino Dalle Carbonare

GT-R for me :)


I would quite like one of these as a thematically appropriate replacement for the 4A-GZE in my MR2, should I ever replace it with an electric drivetrain. 200kW would be more than enough, and if it fits in the 4C it must be pretty compact.


Is there any indication if such a unit will become available on its own? I could see myself experimenting with one driving the non driven wheels actually. This would most likely fit in the boot of any FWD/MR/RR car from the looks of it, which makes it quite interesting for me....

Dino Dalle Carbonare

They only mention supply to manufacturers so I don't think that it would be accessible to private users. Would be cool if they developed swap kits for some popular chassis. This is definitely the future


Thats a shame. Bolt in would mean it would it would rise in price exponentially: Each time of bolt in needs it own mounting points, en therefore a different casing. I would like to see a one size fits all model, where you adapt your frame to house the motor. The only other issue would be driveshafts and hubs.

But fabbing this stuff up isn't the hardest thing to do. I suppose. But I though the gearbox was neet as it supports 2 engines from the looks of it. And that would bring future possibility's


I know the perfect person for this mod! Met this guy stripping his carb down in the car park, so I helped him reset the the float and jets, we put it back together and the engine ran third try. The car was a DKW Grosse 3=6, 3 cylinder inline 2 stroke. You shoulda seen the smoke when it fired up! He got more than a few stern stares from passersby... of course that mighta been the Balthazar Bratt hairstyle he was rocking...

Dino Dalle Carbonare



Very interesting article as usual. If this is being developed as a truly 'plug and play' solution, it opens up infinite opportunities for those who love their old motors, and would be able to run them in future because of the outlawing of ice etc. (read UK new car sales legislation for 2035). Not all of us want a new anonymous electro-box that we have to buy because we can't get anything else, this could potentially have a huge impact if made available in the right way.

As you say Dino, the electric drive train isn't the main issue any more, it's the battery technology, disposal of and weight/locating. If this can be overcome, which I dare say it would, thus driving prices down as well, there's hope for all the classic car owners, current and future, out there!

I for one would love a pair of these installed in my Saab 9-3, 1, to preserve the marque as much as possible, 2, for the simple fact four wheel drive without the inherent transmission costs to economy is something that would be possible, and 3, I can park close to the shops!!!


i'm guessing retro mod's will be a decent future market. keep your special, quirky car w/personality (SAAB being a great example!) but improve daily driving and performance all at once.

we all know lots of older cars that look great but are temperamental, have high service/parts costs or just downright under performing engines. i'm looking at you 928. i always wanted to drop an LS or something in one but i'd consider something like this. and probably lots of room to handle the batteries which are more the packaging concern than the motor.

i was at a small car show in Walla Walla and there was a neat little Karmann Ghia EV conversion. but i think the range wasn't great if i remember correctly.


Had an interesting conversation with a guy at work about hub drive units that contain everything, motor, suspension etc. would open up more avenues for conversion.

Sensing a bit of love for Saab too!

Dino Dalle Carbonare

EV Saab? Cool idea. This is so going to be the future of swaps no matter what chassis your are talking about


Other great engines from Yamaha (used in OEM cars) I can recall, are the Taurus SHO engine and the Volvo S80/XC90 V8 (wonderful engine).

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Yeah that transverse-mounted V8 with a real tight bank angle. Sounded awesome!


I'm going to put four of these on each wheel of my yaris and one in the engine bay.



I dig it. hopefully battery cell packaging gets better, because i feel like this would be a nice alternative for oddball cars with forgettable engines, like a good many American cars from the 80s and 90s. Oldsmobile Silhouette EV, anyone?

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Batteries are only going to improve in every way, it's only a matter of time.


I like hybrid but going straight battery power. I mean my little r/c electric cars take forever to charge and only get 20 mins of run time.

Dino Dalle Carbonare

My RC drift car runs for like 35 min? Get Li-Po batts


Absolutely love the technology and the potential applications, can't wait to see builds in the near future making use of these concepts - but am i the only one that thought I was looking at a 4x4 front mount winch initially?!