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Thursday, June 30, 2016

Concept Vehicles From Yamaha

According to Wikipedia, the Yamaha Motor Company Limited is a Japanese manufacturer of motorcycles, marine products such as boats and outboard motors, and other motorized products.

The concept vehicles seen above seem to fall into that "other motorized products" column.  

One is an electric-assisted bicycle... the other a mobile patio set.

So... let's take a look at two of these weird concept cars - because that's all they are at this moment... concepts.

The vehicles are the dream of Japanese architect architect Ito Toyo (surname first). More on him below. 
First, watch the Yamaha video showing off the concept vehicles the 05Gen and the 06Gen. I would imagine that should concept become reality, Yamaha would come up with a much catchier brand name for each:

The 05Gen is a three-wheeled doo-hickey that Yamaha calls a completely new type of electrically power-assisted mobility vehicle.

It looks small enough that one could ride it in a mall, though I wouldn't recommend using it up or down an escalator or large enough to probably get clipped by a bus driving far too close for the 05Gen operator's liking.

As you hopefully saw in the video, the concept vehicles involve a dream-like existence where other cars aren't on the warpath trying to swerve around you. Or maybe that's just my North American scarred manned of thinking.

Having been hit twice (within a seven-day period) by cars while riding my bicycle... and I want you to know that I was not hotdogging, had the right of way, blah-blah-blah... so I came to the conclusion quite easily that the Japanese for the most part aren't the best drivers. I have other examples... but really, how does one quantify that? The son of friend's of mine was hit by a car this past Friday. At a crosswalk. The button was pushed and the lights were flashing. I have no idea if he waited until the nearest car had stopped, or if he had simply pushed the button and walked into the road hoping the car would stop... he was airlifted by helicopter to a hospital, and after having some pins put into his left ankle and shoulder his summer is screwed. 

Me... I wasn't hurt much either time. It was maybe two or three months into my stay in Japan and my bosses were freaked out.

Anyhow... 05Gen... I admire the concept from Yamaha, but I question whether mankind has evolved enough for an 05Gen operator to do so safely along the narrow pathways that the Japanese mistakenly call roads.

The 05Gen is not a long-distance vehicle. It is for short jaunts to the shop.

The vehicle was designed by Ito to be as comfortable as clothing - to form around the driver snugly.

  • a leaning technology that allows it to make tight turns easily;
  • electric power-assist for easier pedaling like an E-bike;
  • a curving windscreen that comes up over the operator's head - protecting from light rain and sun - this is the clothes-concept;
  • storage compartment - but it's on the small side.
If it is raining out, the windshield covering will bring out the feeling of walking under an umbrella (but probably not as fast as walking under an umbrella! Ha! I kill me!) with the side and rear openings...

If it was listed anywhere on the Yamaha website, I didn't notice, but I would assume that if the company thinks you can use it INSIDE a mall, then it's not going to utilize a powerful electrical motor... but I don't know how big the battery is regardless.  

Where's the frickin' door?

This four-wheeled contraption somehow looks more comfortable than my own couch.

If you look at the photo, one can be forgiven if you can't tell which is the front and which is its rear.

Also a short-range vehicle—it really does look some some rich dude's golf cart... as it looks like it could easily seat four or five Japanese people or two, possible three slender North Americans.

Not meant by Yamaha to invoke memories of toppling over drunk upon a golf cart you stole and drove to the local 7-11, the 06Gen is meant to evoke memories all Japanese people wish they had of engawa - a veranda - that creates a space that is neither indoors or outdoors. In other words, a relaxing experience.

Using materials that have a look and feel reminiscent of a living room for the sofa-like seats and the floor, and employing a seat layout only possible with a low-speed vehicle like this, the 06Gen brings added enrichment to time spent on the move and naturally encourages people to connect.

I suppose. I might wonder if this vehicle was a Japanese chick magnet or repellent. Again... I would imagine the 06Gen is a conceptual car for a better future where bloggers aren't so snippy and self-obsessed.

People connections? Sure... look at the seating arrangements... aside from the driver who is hopefully facing front and watching who is laughing at him, the others are facing inwards towards each other. You could talk... or, if you are like today's generation, you could talk to each other via text while sitting 30 cm away from one another.

Now... look again at the picture... see the driver's seat in the back half of the 06Gen. The driver's backside is going to be right up against the  person directly behind them... in fact, the driver is going to be in the way of the conversationalists.

Also... won't there be at least one person to the right of the steering wheel that will in effect be blocking the driver's view of the path they are on? You can't see right! That's like a triple entendre in my head.

Conceptually to look upon, the 06Gen looks like a fun ride at Tokyo Disneyland - I'm thinking the Haunted Mansion ride.

No idea how it operates, but I'm pretty sure it's pedal and electric e-bike stuff.

By the way... there's no port door on the 06Gen.

The father of the 06Gen - a golf cart. It's mother was a roller skate. A slow roller skate. No... not even a roller blade.
You’ll notice at the end of the video in the concept drawings, it shows two 05Gen vehicles, one 06Gen vehicle, a grey-haired woman with an umbrella standing and a grey-haired man in a wheel-chair.

It would be my guess that they are plotting a race to see who is the slowest or perhaps fastest.

Kidding… if you look at it closely, the image actually depicts the woman and man as being occupants of the 06Gen who obviously drove out to the lovely countryside of Japan to talk with the two relatives or friends on the 05Gen.   

I've taken the following from the Yamaha website...

Concepts for these Yamaha vehicles were based upon the following:
The “Shimanami Kaido” connects Onomichi City on Japan’s main island with Imabari City on the island of Shikoku via bridges running across numerous islands in the Seto Inland Sea. Around the halfway point on the route lies Omishima Island, where architect Ito Toyo (surname first) opened the Toyo Ito Museum of Architecture, Imabari in 2011. With this event and Ito’s lead, island residents and young architects came together to begin transforming the appeal of the island’s natural beauty, culture and community. Yamaha Motor contributed to the project by proposing new ways to get around the island with the 05GEN and 06GEN concept models. The 05GEN will be on display at the Steel Hut section of the museum from July 4, 2016 - June 17, 2017. 

Designer Ito Toyo
As for the designer himself, Ito looks pretty damn young for a man who was born in 1941. Seriously - this guy is 75 years old? I thought he was 25 years younger! At least!

Ito graduated from the Department of Architecture at the University of Tokyo, with some of his celebrated works including the Sendai Mediatheque and “Minna no Mori” Gifu Media Cosmos libraries.

Ito has been awarded The Grand Prize of AIJ from the Architectural Institute of Japan, the Golden Lion at the Venice Architecture Biennale, the Royal Gold Medal from the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), and the Pritzker Architecture Prize. Ito also opened the Ito Juku studio in 2011 as a place to study and contemplate the future of architecture and urban planning, and the studio is involved in a number of initiatives to that effect.

Here’s a link to the Imabari Museum:

Sendai Mediatheque

Minna no Mori Gifu Media Cosmos.

Yes, I have taken the mickey out of these two concept cars, but not as much as I thought I was going to.

While they are interesting concepts, a part of me is sad that that aren't that practical in today's world.

I would be very happy to be wrong and see these vehicles in full production in a couple of years... or to look as hip as Ito does in that photo.

Andrew Joseph


  1. Time travel. It's the only explanation of how Ito can look like he does at 75. Plus his building designs ... obviously stolen from the future. The open air vehicles ... proof of global warming which he has seen in the future (or past travels to the future? So confusing, these time paradoxes). Oh ... and Happy Canada Day! Enjoy doing nothing ... that's what I hope to do this weekend.

    1. I was just thinking about you - haven't heard from you in a while! Yeah - time travel... or he's a construct/robot... or from another planet... he looks plastic and perfect. Mint in box!