It surprising to us that there is so little investment in technologies and business in the two-wheeled space by the established players.
Maybe it is the conservative nature of the motorcycle industry, or maybe it is because motorcycle companies are just miserably bad at corporate development. Whatever the reason may be, it makes today’s headline an intriguing one.
This is because Yamaha Motor Corp. in Japan has just set aside $100 million to invest in technologies and business startups, over the next 10 years.
Yamaha Motor has cause for celebration…just not in the United States, as the Tuning Fork brand posted a 6.6% increase in revenue during the first six months of this year, coupled to a 86.8% increase in net income.
These strong financial figures are due to strong unit sales in emerging markets, like Vietnam, the Philippines, Thailand, and Taiwan. But, they come with the caveat that sales are flat in Europe, and down in the United States.
Yamaha has some good excuses for its performance in these developed markets: blaming environmental regulations for the lackluster sales in Europe (we assume they are referring to the Euro4 emission requirements), and a weak overall demand for motorcycles in the United States.
When Valentino Rossi was in the US for the Grand Prix of the Americas in Austin, a little bird told us he would be stopping by Yamaha’s San Francisco offices, where the Yamaha Motobot autonomous riding robot project is coming to life.
It looks like our sources were right, as Yamaha has released a video showing Rossi “meeting” Motobot, at what looks like Thunderhill Raceway, just north of San Francisco.
The video is interesting, because it shows the rapid progress that Yamaha, and its partner SRI International, are making with automated two-wheeled systems.
The eagle eyes at Motorcycle.com have noticed that Yamaha Motor Corporation is in the process of folding its Star Motorcycles cruiser brand back into the company’s core motorcycle business, under the Yamaha name.
The move is a tectonic shift for the space, as Star Motorcycles was Yamaha’s attempt to give Harley-Davidson a run for its money with superior “metric cruiser” offerings.
As such, the brand was originally set aside from Yamaha’s other motorcycle models, in an attempt to set Star Motorcycles away from the “Jap Bike” mentality that existed at the time in the cruiser demographic.
Yamaha, along with Honda, Kawasaki, and Suzuki have had limited success in this regard, despite offering superior machinery on virtual every metric, save one: their bikes are not from the Bar & Shield brand.
Surely now realizing this, Yamaha has pivoted its “sport heritage” lineup back into Yamaha’s core brand, though we expect the “Star” name will remain in the model branding to some degree.
Yamaha’s Motobot was one of the bigger announcements to come from 2015, with the motorcycle riding humanoid robot promising to garner Yamaha a great deal of information about several key industries, as well as some headlines along the way.
Showing off the Yamaha Motobot at the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show (CES), Yamaha has made public a very ambitious schedule for Motobot, for the coming years. The most daunting task from Yamaha? To have Motobot making laps on a race track by 2017, at over 200 km/h (125 mph).
Let’s face it, we knew this day would come. Technology has finally progressed to the point where our beloved past time of riding motorcycles can now be done by a robot. Sarah Connor was right. Skynet is coming. I, for one, welcome our robot overlords.
As tinfoil hat as we can make this story, let’s be honest…it’s pretty cool that Yamaha is developing a humanoid robot that can ride a motorcycle. It’s sorta creepy, but it’s also really cool.
To help lighten the blow, Yamaha is playing off its “Motobot” with a little bit of humor, having the machine taunt factory MotoGP rider Valentino Rossi, and suggesting that one day the robot will beat the
ten-time nine-time World Champion at what he does best.
That’s fun and all, and it certainly grabs headlines, but the Yamaha Motobot is a really big deal for a lot more reasons that are less obvious than what has been put forth. Let me explain.
In addition to the priced-to-own Yamaha YZF-R1S debuting today, Yamaha has also announced that its 60th Anniversary livery will be headed to the USA as well.
Yes, this means that yellow & black “speedblock” Yamaha YZF-R1 that you drooled over a month ago will be available for purchase for a cool $16,990 MSRP, along with the Yamaha YZF-R6 ($11,490 MSRP) and Yamaha Super Ténéré ($15,590 MSRP).
As you can tell, the speedblock paint is commanding a $500 premium from Yamaha; and disappointingly, only only the base model R1 and Super Ténéré will get the special livery.
This means that if you have an R1M, R1S, or Super Ténéré ES you will have to figure out some way to swap the plastics out on your machine, if you want to help Yamaha celebrate its 60th anniversary of being in business, that is.
Still, as always, the yellow and black liveries are fetching and attractive on these three machines. If you don’t believe that statement, we have the proof in the high-resolution photos, found after the jump.
We couldn’t make this story up if we tried, but Yamaha Motor Corporation is using the internet meme “LOLcats” to promote its product launches at the upcoming Tokyo Motor Show, complete with a kitten-written speech and internet-generated cat-meme photos.
Apparently this all started because in Japan, cats say “nya” instead of “meow” – this of course lead to the name “NYA-maha”…a ham-fisted bit of word play that should have never evolved beyond witty water cooler banter, or the best scene from stoner-favorite Supertroopers.
We seriously don’t know who pitched this idea, or how they fit their giant cojones in that conference room, but they must have been the voodoo master of marketing pitches, because here we are. You win Yamaha. You’ve robbed us of our innocence, but you win.
You cannot un-see this dedicated website, which has a prominent link on Yamaha’s global website. You also can’t un-read this “President’s Address”, or un-see the “product descriptions” for the Tokyo Motor Show, shown after the jump.
It’s all like looking at a solar eclipse of catnip, while getting Rickrolled by a giant multi-national motorcycle corporation that also happens to sell pianos.
Could the next Yamaha sport bike be a triple? That’s been the rumor for some time now, but there hasn’t been too much evidence to support the matter. Just last week, Yamaha Motor Corporation filed for trademarks in the European Union and United States that include “YZF-R3” and “R3” names for motorcycles.
The first reaction to the news is that Yamaha is finally reading a three-cylinder versions of its popular YZF-R1 and YZF-R6 machines; however, with some understanding of Yamaha’s naming conventions, the more likely assumption to make from this trademark filings is that Yamaha is readying a 300cc class sport bike, likely along the same veins as the Yamaha YZF-R25 concept that was shown at the Tokyo Motor Show.
Yamaha Motor Co. recently had its investors meeting, and the Japanese company left a curious item for its second-to-last slide in the presentation: a leaning multi-wheeler. Unfortunately, the proposed machine doesn’t appear to be a production version of the Tesseract concept (shown above), but instead a new sporty three-wheeled scooter, to take on bikes like the unfortunately named Piaggio MP3.
Expected for the 2014 model year, we should see the Yamaha’s Leaning Multi-Wheeler (LMW) at the EICMA and Tokyo Motor Show later this year. No word yet on what will be beneath the fairings, but it is expected that the leaning trike will around 300cc to 400cc in displacement, and go head-to-head with the MP3 on price (insert 99¢ download joke here).
While for the most part 2012 was a growth year for the motorcycle industry, not all of the OEMs faired the storm equally. Posting a 5.4% sales loss in 2012 compared to 2011, Yamaha also saw a massive decrease in net profits last year.
Generating ¥1,276 billion 2011, Yamaha saw a 5.4% decrease in revenues, with sales totaling ¥1,207 billion in 2012. While units sales and sales revenue were down only a modest amount, net income was down a massive 72.2%, ¥7.5 billion (2012) vs. ¥27 billion (2011).