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Yamaha Motor

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As the year winds down, we continue to think about the future. The other day, Bugatti showed us its 3D printed titanium brake calipers, and now we turn ourselves to another budding technology.

Roam Robotics is not a company you are likely to have heard of, but Yamaha Motor certainly is, and the Japanese motorcycle brand recently flexed its investing arm, leading a $12 million investment round  into the aforementioned Silicon Valley tech startup.

While the technology is complex, the concept behind Roam’s business is not, as they are developing an exoskeleton system that will help to enhance the physical movements of both the able-bodied and handicapable.

On Wednesday, we told you about Yamaha’s struggling sales in the US market for its large displacement machines, with several bikes from several categories showing lackluster results over the last 12 months. We told this story first, because it frames a series of future stories about Yamaha Motor USA, and today is a continuation of that narrative.

As such, Asphalt & Rubber has learned that Yamaha plans to move its corporate headquarters out of Cypress, California – the epicenter of the motorcycle industry – and relocate to the other side of the country, setting up shop just outside of Atlanta, Georgia. The primary driver for this move? Costs.

The Japanese automotive industry is being rocked by an emissions and fuel efficiency scandal right now, and it involves the Yamaha Motor Company motorcycle division as well.

All told, five of the eight automotive companies in Japan have been found incorrectly testing and reporting the emissions and fuel mileage of their vehicles.

The scandal started in 2016 with Mitsubishi, which lead to findings last year where Nissan and Subaru were found manipulating the results of their emission results. These findings then caused the Japanese government to require other automotive companies in Japan to check their testing operations.

Upon this internal review, Mazda and Suzuki found and reported that their cars had been improperly tested, with Yamaha finding similar results with its motorcycle standards testing.

The Yamaha Corporation announced today that it will be selling 8 million shares of its holdings in Yamaha Motor Co., a movement of shares that will see roughly 2.3% of the voting power in the powersports company changing hands.

This deal is expected to close on December 4th, and the Yamaha Corporation says that it will be selling its position to various unnamed securities companies, presumably to then be sold on the open market.

At the current market price for Yamaha Motor stock, this deal should be worth close to ¥26 billion, and ¥18 billion after tax expenses have been factored.

Industrial design is not a commonly known, much less well understood, profession. To some it suggests arranging equipment inside factories, to others it means some kind of product engineering. In reality it is the search for, and expression of, human satisfaction in inanimate objects that are mass produced.

That’s quite a mouthful, and to the average person it may sound like jiberish written for some pretentious coffee table book, but it is the truth. At least, it is one version of the truth as seen by the GK Design Group of Tokyo, Japan.

If you ride motorcycles, then you are intimately familiar with the work of this large and internationally respected studio. Since only its second production bike, the indigenously designed YA-1, every Yamaha motorcycle since 1958 has been crafted by GK.

At a time when made-in-Japan meant cheap and poorly manufactured imitation, Yamaha endeavoured to build motorcycles that could capture hearts as much as wallets by using a corporate philosophy they call Kando.

Announcing today its “New Medium-term Management Plan” that will cover the next three years of business operations, Yamaha Motor Co.’s strategy is fairly simple, yet also very ambitious. While fighting against the global currency exchange rate with the yen, the Japanese company is hoping to release over 250 new units over its various product segments.

While this goal encompasses all of Yamaha Motors’ product lines, the most obvious additions for the motorcycle division will be Yamaha’s recently announced three-cylinder motorcycles, as well as the now confirmed Yamaha YZF-R250, a 250cc sport bike that will debut in the Indian market.

Unless you have an MBA, Yamaha’s three-year business strategy is a pretty dull read (it might still be a snoozer, even if you do have an MBA), but one Powerpoint slide struck me as interesting (you can see the full presentation here).

Investors at the Tokyo Stock Exchange were not happy with Yamaha Motor this morning, as the Japanese motorcycle manufacturer reported its 2010 earnings and 2011 forecast, and promptly saw its stock drop 10%. Despite managing to turnaround its 2010 income from the ¥216.1 billion ($2.5 billion) loss it took in 2009 to a profit of ¥18.3 billion ($219 million), Yamaha only expects to improve on these gains by just over 9% in 2011.