Gordon Murray is best-known for his work on the McLaren F1 supercar more than two decades ago, and as a top Formula One designer before that, but he's spent the last few years showing he can turn his attention to more realistic--if less exciting--projects too. The first fruits of that labor were shown at the Tokyo Motor Show back in November, in the shape of the Yamaha Motiv city car.
It's now been announced the Motiv--still a concept vehicle at this stage--features electric power provided by engineering firm Zytek. Zytek itself has spent several years perfecting electric drivetrain technology, and was the firm behind the electric systems in the first few generations of electric-powered Smart Fortwo. That stands it in good stead for Yamaha's city car project, itself very close to the Fortwo in concept with a squat, two-seat passenger layout.
Years of experience in the field have seen drivetrains become lighter and more compact. Zytek says the electric motor weighs just 28.7 lbs and the single-speed reduction gearbox only 24.2 lbs. The power inverter is also light at 16.5 lbs--all components light enough that you could pick them up without much difficulty. While batteries inevitably add to the car's mass (the pack holds 8.8 kWh of charge, for 100 miles of range), it shows just how compact modern electric drive systems can be made. The size of the electric motor has been facilitated by its quick 15,000 rpm motor speed, higher than comparable units and allowing it to produce comparable power from a smaller unit--25 kilowatts, or 33.5 horsepower.
Gearheads have more than low-powered city-based electric vehicles to look forward to from Murray, though. The designer recently revealed he's still got "one more supercar" left in him, a car he promises would be much more back-to-basics than the overweight, electronics-heavy current breed. Murray has long expressed distaste at the weight and complication of supercars prior to and since the F1--so a simplified, light-weight and low-volume car would be a certainty.