Yamaha is looking to make cars… That’s right, the Japanese multinational corporation best known for its musical instruments, electronics, motorcycles and power sports equipment will enter the car business.
Speaking to the , Yamaha CEO Hiroyuki Yanagi expressed potential plans to build small cars for sale in Europe by 2019. The city cars might look similar to the Yamaha Motiv Concept (pictured above) that was show at the 2013 Tokyo Motor Show and will likely be offered with a petrol or electric motor.
Yanagi didn’t reveal specifics but expects power to be provided by a 1.0L petrol engine developed in-house. Europe was apparently chosen as a starting point because its cities offer the best layout and infrastructure for such a vehicle.
The idea of Yamaha making cars may sound strange, but the Japanese company has actually been in the car business for decades, having produced and sold engines to many of the world’s top automakers since 1955. It was even a coachbuilder for the first Nissan Silvia and Toyota 2000GT supercar.
While Yamaha clearly has the knowhow to make a car, especially one as unsophisticated as a small city car, the automotive industry is so crowded and competitive that it will be difficult to find a footing. Not only will they compete against established automakers like Toyota and BMW, but they will also have to contend with the likes of Apple and Google, who all want a piece of the urban transportation space.
Additionally, making cars on is very expensive, meaning the company will need a partner to have any chance of succeeding. It needs to tread lightly…
Fiat Working on New City Car Smaller Than 500 Hatch?
As if the diminutive Fiat 500 wasn’t small enough, Italian automaker Fiat is reportedly testing a brand new city car that’s even smaller and more affordable.
The new model is supposedly called Topolino (translates to “small mouse” in Italian) and is roughly five inches shorter than the 500. It will be offered with both two- and four-door body styles but possibly only one engine — a variation of the two-cylinder TwinAir unit that powers many of Fiat and Alfa Romeo models in Europe.
Considering how tiny the 500 is, we’re are a bit skeptical about the . If it turns out to be true, expect the Fiat Topolino to debut at the 2016 Paris Motor Show or 2017 Geneva Motor Show. It will compete with the likes of the Volkswagen up!, Opel/Vauxhall Adam, Toyota Aygo, Citroën C1 and Peugeot 108.
Trivia: Topolino was actually the nickname of the first-generation Fiat 500, which was built from 1936 to 1955. Despite being the first, the model was actually bigger than its immediate successor. So much for “small mouse”…
New, 2017 Smart Fortwo Cabrio – a Cute Convertible for the World
The all-new, 2016 Smart Fortwo Cabrio has been revealed and — as a convertible — can open and close its top at the push of button.
The Fortwo Cabrio looks nearly identical to the Fortwo Coupe on which it is based but is distinguished by a smaller B-pillar and a “more progressive” tridion safety cell as a result of its topless composition. Available in three different colors (black, blue denim and red) and featuring a glass rear windscreen, its power retractable canvas roof can open in just 12 seconds, even when driving at freeway speeds.
ALSO CHECK OUT: This is the New Smart ForTwo and ForFour City Cars [Video]
The cute convertible comes standard with LED daytime running lamps, Bluetooth connectivity, power steering, power windows, automatic A/C, cruise control, an alarm, a multi-function steering wheel, and more.
European models are offered with two three-cylinder engines at launch, one producing 71 PS and 67 lb-ft. (91 Nm) of torque and the other making 90 PS and 99 lb-ft. (135 Nm). They can be paired with either a five-speed manual or an automatic twinamic dual clutch transmission.
In an effort to achieve the same level of safety as the coupe, Smart’s engineers increased the Fortwo Cabrio’s torsional strength by approximately 15 percent, applying chassis reinforcements that include a crossover bar, two torsional bulkheads and high-strength steel tubes in the A-pillars.
The new, 2017 Smart Fortwo Cabrio debuts at the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show before going on sale in February 2016.
Opel Karl (Vauxhall Viva) Arrives as a Very Cheap City Car
The peculiarly-named Opel Adam has a new brother: Karl, as in Opel Karl. In the UK, the little German will go by ‘Vauxhall Viva’.
Like the Adam, the Karl (Viva) is a small hatchback and measures just 3680mm long. Unlike the Adam, it is geared towards budget shoppers, commanding a bargain-basement starting price of £7,500 (€9,500).
Customers will be able to spruce-up its rather plain exterior with a choice of 10 body paints and several alloy wheel designs ranging in sizes from 14 to 16 inches.
The simple interior at best but is available with an IntelliLink infotainment system, heated steering wheel and front seats, a sunroof, cruise control, park assist and lane departure warning. A ‘city mode’ integrated into steering system helps reduce steering effort at the push of a button.
Under the hood of the Karl (Viva) rests a three-cylinder 1.0-liter naturally aspirated gasoline engine that produces 75 horsepower, which is channeled to the front wheels through a five-speed manual gearbox. Other engines will likely be offered later on in the production run.
The car’s chassis and steering were designed to provide “exceptional safety and comfort” and are complimented by a traction control system, hill start assist, and electronic stability control.
ALSO CHECK OUT: New Opel Corsa Hatchback Gets Styling Help from Adam
European sales of the Opel Karl and Vauxhall Viva begin in mid-2015. The next Chevrolet Spark will supposedly share many components with both cars.
Here is some trivia: The aptly-named Karl pays tribute to Carl Opel, one of company founder Adam Opel’s three sons (Adam being another, of course). Carl is credited for helping shift the focus of Opel away from bicycles to cars.
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