Yamaha “essentially” wants to enter auto business, but isn’t sure when and how

Hiroyuki Yanagi , today in Tokyo

Hiroyuki Yanagi , today in Tokyo

With the Motiv microcar, shown at the 2013 Tokyo Motor Show, Yamaha signaled its intent to enter the crowded car market. Two years later, the company isn’t so sure that it will happen. “Essentially, we want to sell this product,” Yamaha CEO Hiroyuki Yanagi told reporters today during the company’s annual results conference in Tokyo. However, “we need to take a bit more time this year to see how we want to start-up this business,” Yanagi added. Asked when the Motiv would appear, Yanagi wanted “to refrain from commenting on a specific timeframe.”

The battery-operated Motiv has been designed by Gordon Murray, who received fame for his work in Formula 1 and with McLaren. News of an impending launch of the microcar circled a few times in the past to years, but nothing happened. Today, Yanagi said that his company doesn’t have more to show of the car than the results of a European market study, and a budget.

Yamaha’s study of the market for microcars in Europe most likely did not produce inspiring results. EU sales of Daimler’s Smart Fortwo two-seater were 52,000 in 2014, less than half of what the car sold at its peak in 2002. A new four-seater version, the Smart Forfour, shares the platform with Renault’s Twingo, which last year also sold only half of its 2009 high water mark.