Yamaha sells EV drive unit for performance vehicles

A few days ago, Yamaha announced a new electric drive unit that achieves the highest output density in the industry. The unit develops just under 470 horsepower with minimal weight. Not only does the company want to sell the units, but it will also help integrate them into prototypes and production vehicles so that new and existing automakers come back for more.

Custom drive units are nothing new to Yamaha

Since last year, the company has been accepting special orders for electric drive units ranging from 35 to 200 kW. As you would expect from Yamaha, the low wattage units it offers are ideal for motorcycles, but are also good for other mobility applications, like scooters and neighborhood electric vehicles. There are other off-road uses as well, such as ATVs and UTVs.

So far, when a company “orders” a custom drive unit from Yamaha, getting help from the company to integrate their electric drive unit into a new vehicle has been part of the deal. “Yamaha will leverage its production technology and expertise in the areas of molding, machining and assembly that give the company the flexibility to adapt to the needs of motorcycles and its many other products, its prototyping equipment and facilities and more to develop prototypes. engines tailored to specific customer requirements within a short period of time, ”the company said in a press release.

The new Yamaha Performance drive unit

Until now, the maximum power that one could get from a Yamaha drive unit was just under 270 horsepower. For an economy car, one of these units is probably OK. For a moderate performance vehicle, two of their older top units (front and rear) would deliver around 540 horsepower. It’s not bad, but as Justin Hammer would say, it is “not enough disco” for some drivers.

Apparently Yamaha agrees with Hammer that size matters (don’t let anyone tell you otherwise) so he decided to go all out and produce an 800 volt drive unit that produces 470 ponies. by axle. Add a second unit to the front of the vehicle (shame on you if you even plan to make a front-wheel drive electric vehicle), and you’ll get a total of around 940 horsepower. This is not to be sneezed at.

Like many Japanese companies, the company decided to add a little lightness while it was at it. “The main feature of this newly developed electric motor is its compact construction which treats the mechanical and electrical components as a single entity, integrating the gear and the inverter into a single unit. “

By having a compact and lightweight drive unit that provides that kind of power, you can build a pretty powerful EV.

If you want to see the unit for yourself, Yamaha Motor plans to exhibit the 350 kW class unit and its other electric motor prototypes at the 2021 Yokohama Automotive Engineering Exposition, scheduled for May 26-28, 2021.

A bigger deal than it looks

Yamaha’s drive units may not seem like a big deal until you compare what they offer to vehicles on the road. The S Plaid model develops 1,020 peak horsepower (Yamaha’s torque figures are not available for comparison), which is only 80 horsepower more than a twin-engine car powered by Yamaha’s new drive units. . In other words, you can get performance similar to Tesla’s current top performer if you can reduce the weight a bit.

The extra help you get in the case makes it a pretty decent shortcut to building a high performance EV. Not only does Yamaha integrate most of the electronics into the drive unit, but the company will also help you design a car that works well with its drive units and make modifications to the units themselves if necessary. Instead of having to build a drive unit that can handle this kind of performance from scratch, you can get started much faster.

When you consider all the work and cost it took Tesla to get to where it is with its drive units (many early units failed and were replaced out of the Tesla dimes), that ‘s is a pretty hefty value proposition that Yamaha is bringing to an aspiring electric vehicle manufacturer. New market entrants and existing car manufacturers can benefit.

Yamaha is not a dubious supplier

If a new startup or a company with little experience in building transportation products came up with an electric motor of such power, it would be a questionable proposition. If you buy a bunch of drive units that eventually break down, your new EV business could be in big financial trouble. This happened to Tesla with some of its early drive units in need of replacement, and is a continuing (but relatively small) financial drain on the company, as more and more older Model S vehicles are coming in. found in warranty service centers over time.

The old saying goes “good judgment comes from experience, which comes from bad judgment”. I would add that gaining experience is expensive. It’s important to learn what works and what doesn’t, and doing it on the fly can be a big expense.

Yamaha is not a newcomer to vehicle construction, however. The original Yamaha musical instrument company has been around since Torakusu Yamaha repaired an organ in 1887 and then built its own. The company then embarked on the construction of vehicles of all kinds in the 1950s, building on its previous experience in building precision parts for musical instruments.

Since then, Yamaha has learned a lot about what works and what doesn’t. The company has had its successes and its failures. He also had a lot of experience supplying engines to other companies, such as when Ford built the original Taurus SHO. Today, she builds everything from small industrial engines to large V8 engines for Volvo.

Yamaha is not a Johnny in electric vehicles either. His first 2-wheel electric vehicles came out in 1975 and since then he has been working on small electric vehicles and generators. The company has a lot of experience in the field of electric motors and is ready to put this experience at the service of other manufacturers. It also means he takes at least some of the risk if things go wrong.

If I was running a new EV program, whether as a new company or for an established automaker, I would seriously consider Yamaha’s offerings in this case to avoid the costly trial and error that such a company would involve.

Source: Yamaha press release

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