Yamaha continues its sideways approach to electric vehicle development, with announcement of a new electric crate motor that puts out a massive 475 horsepower (350 kilowatt output, according to the press release). It’s just a prototype right now, but Yamaha is already taking orders from customers.

Just to be clear, this new motor is aimed at cars. The concept drawings show a motor that’s far bigger than the hub units used in most wimpy electric step-throughs. It also appears to be larger than latest-generation electric motorcycle powerplants, like the one in the Triumph TE-1. However, considering its massive output, it’s still quite compact, partly because it integrates multiple components into a single purpose-built housing. Yamaha says “The main feature of this newly developed electric motor is its compact construction that treats the mechanical and electrical components as a single entity, integrating the gear and inverter into one unit.

That sounds a lot like Triumph’s recent TE-01 update, where development partner Integral Powertrain Ltd. said the company’s new motor reduced bulk and improved efficiency by integrating the motor and inverter into a single unit. Indeed, this sort of design is likely going to be the “unit construction” of the 21st century.

Who would buy such a massively powerful electric motor?Yamaha’s press release says “This unit is aimed at use in hyper-EV models and other offerings in the high-output mobility segment.” No hints there, then, but it goes on to say “It was also developed in anticipation of installation and use of multiple units on a single vehicle.”

In other words, if 475 horsepower isn’t enough, you can daisy-chain a few of these motors together for even more mad power.

Yamaha’s new powerplant is officially an “Interior Permanent Magnet Synchronous Motor,” with oil cooling, operating at 800 volts.

If this sounds like something you need, Yamaha says it’s going to start taking orders this month (April, 2021).

A look at the future?

This engine didn’t come out of nowhere—Yamaha’s been working on electric “crate engines” for  months now, ranging from 35 to 200 kilowatt output, or roughly 47 to 268 horsepower. This is just the next big step in that program. Earlier motors in this program were aimed at motorcycle application, and no doubt someone will try to build a bike around this motor as well.

Taking a step back, it’s a lot more than an interesting technological development: It’s a look at where the industry is headed. As the moto industry techs up, we’ve seen Bosch basically take over the market for electronic safety gadgets (ABS, traction control, adaptive cruise control, etc.). Now Yamaha’s making an aggressive play on the electric motor market. Maybe Honda, or BMW, or some other company will in turn make a play to dominate the battery market?

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