Yamaha to kick start Toyota microcar
Sources say Japanese firms have co-designed a compact, motorcycle-derived engine
The sources said the engine was designed in cooperation with Japanese motorcycle maker Yamaha Motor, which also may build the unit for Toyota.
Toyota’s engine cooperation with Yamaha began in 1967.
When asked for official comment, Toyota declined to discuss powertrain details for the IQ, which it still considers a research prototype.
Microcars on the way
Toyota and Volkswagen have promised to launch microcars before the end of the decade. The automakers believe these microcars will appeal to buyers around the world whether they are young urban Europeans looking for chic well-equipped city cars or a first-time buyer in India or Brazil who wants basic, reliable transportation. The tiny, fuel-sipping cars also will help the automakers reduce their average fleet emissions. The EU wants the auto industry to cut CO2 emissions to 120 grams per kilometer by 2012 from about 160g/km now.
Toyota wants its 3+1 car to be bigger than the two-seat, 2695mm Smart ForTwo but smaller than the 3400mm, four-seat microcar planned by VW.
To keep the IQ under 3000mm, Toyota turned to Yamaha for what sources say is a two-cylinder, 1.0-liter unit that will be mounted up front.
Using a motorcycle engine will help Toyota reduce the length of the IQ’s engine bay. That is because parts such as the transmission can be located within the engine block and components such as the air-conditioning module which can be bolted onto the side of the engine.
The result is a tall, compact unit.
In the VW microcar, the engine will be in the rear.
Toyota plans to start IQ production in Japan at the end of 2008. Shipments to Europe will begin in January 2009.
Europe is expected to get 80,000 IQs a year.
The rest of the output -- about 20,000 units -- will be sold in Japan. Toyota has not decided whether to export the IQ to the US.
Last month, Toyota unveiled a 2980mm-long concept version of the IQ at the IAA in Frankfurt. The production vehicle will remain under 3000mm. It will seat three adults and a child behind the driver.
In Europe, the IQ will be priced between the Aygo minicar and the Yaris small car. That which means it will cost about €13,000.
Toyota currently gets a 2.5-liter V-6 engine from Yamaha. That powerplant is used in models such as the Mark X upper-medium sedan, which is only sold in Japan.
The Japanese automaker is the second-largest shareholder in Yamaha Motor with a 4.36 percent stake. Parent Yamaha Corp. has a controlling 14.76 percent share.
You can reach Luca Ciferri at firstname.lastname@example.org.