Currently reading: Yamaha to show new Gordon Murray iStream sports car at Tokyo
Compact two-seater looks on course to reach production as development continues
Sam Sheehan
2 mins read
12 October 2017

Yamaha will reveal a new design concept at this month’s Tokyo motor show, signalling continued interest for the brand to produce its first road car.

Described only as an "automobile" by Yahama, it is thought to be a two-seat sports car built using the innovative iStream manufacturing process created by McLaren F1 designer Gordon Murray.

Yamaha Cross Hub Concept revealed at Tokyo motor show

The brand has been publicly stating its intent to launch a car since the reveal of its Motiv city car concept of 2013. It is believed that the Sports Ride Concept (pictured above) that followed in 2015 offers the best glimpse of the concept due in Tokyo this month.

All of Yamaha’s aforementioned concept cars have been built using Murray’s radical iStream process, which enables extensive use of carbonfibre for lower production costs in high-volume cars (pictured below).

The cost of producing a chassis is closely linked to the volume of cars being produced and the upfront investment required, but Murray has previously told Autocar that the system can be employed profitably for production volumes of between 1000 and 350,000 cars. As such, it is believed the Yamaha Sports Ride Concept could be priced competitively against the likes of the Lotus Elise.

The sports car is understood to weigh significantly less than 900kg and be similar in size to the Smart Roadster, although Yamaha’s mid-engined model will use a fixed top.

Yamaha is understood to be handling development the car’s engine, likely a turbocharged three-cylinder of 1.0-litre capacity based on the one first shown with the Yamaha Motiv. In that car, it produced about 75bhp, but if it were to be uprated to produce more than 100bhp, it would give the sports car a power-to-weight ratio of around 130bhp per tonne – comparable with the Elise.

Yamaha is understood to be undecided on whether its first road model will be based on the concept sports car or be more closely related to the Motiv city car. When the brand does come to a decision, its first production car will be produced in Europe.

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12 October 2017

Can someone please explain to me what is so "innovative" about the iStream manufacturing process? And how is it supposed to achieve such significant cost savings?

I have trawled the 'net looking for answers and found next to nothing. Even Gordon Murray's own website is threadbare - it just reads like estate agent blurb.

All I see is a monocoque and tubular sub-frames made from composites.

12 October 2017
We are looking to replace our Smart Roadster with something simularly fun and eco friendly.
However it really needs to be electric and an open top.

12 October 2017

GMD website doesn't go in to massive detail as it's difficult to be exactly precise in a general way. How it works is basically this; a spaceframe is made from tubular steel, vauguely like a nascar rollcage/chassis, to which composite panels are then attached/bonded, resulting in a completed bodyshell. The idea is that it's easier and more efficient to make than a conventional steel monocoque (but still strong etc) which requires many pieces of steel (real close to around 300 per car) to be cut, stamped, and welded, then corrosion-proofed and painted. iStream results in a smaller factory, using less energy to manufacture cars, and being a lot more environmentally friendly in doing so. Manufacturers are always quiet about the environmental impact of car production, it's difficult to get the average-per-car figures for things, however, to gove you an idea, the co2 figure for the Mondeo production line is around 16tons per car. that's 16,000,000grams, which puts a bit hole in the "new cars are better for the environment" argument - which is what his issue was, resulting in the whole thing coming about. Search for a documentary called "how to go fast and influence people" (it's not on youtube though), it's worth watching, shows you the whole process of iStream and the T25 being designed/developed/invented. I hope this has made sense....!!

12 October 2017

Many thanks for the comprehensive reply - although I'm still not really sold on the idea! I just can't see how a spaceframe is "easier and more efficient to make" than a monocoque - unless its very, very low volume. I'll keep an eye out for the documentary you mentioned but every time I see Gordon Murray trying to explain the iStream system I think of R.J. Mitchell:

"if anybody ever tells you anything about an aeroplane that is so bloody complicated you can't understand it, take it from me, it's all balls." !

13 October 2017
Bill Lyons wrote:

 I just can't see how a spaceframe is "easier and more efficient to make" than a monocoque

A space frame doesn't require massive presses to stamp it out.  That's where the main cost and time savings are.  Those body presses are huge and cost millions.  That's why nowadays when a volume manufacturer announces a "facelift", it usually extends only to tweaking the lights and the shape of the bumper mouldings - it's too expensive to change anything else!  It is surprising that volume manufacturers don't reconsider their production methods - is it a case of "not invented here"?

13 October 2017

I hope this makes production. One of the most beautiful concept cars I can remember. Truly stunning.

13 October 2017
cmscot wrote:

I hope this makes production. One of the most beautiful concept cars I can remember. Truly stunning.

The Motiv was also a very attractive design - far more stylish than the current Smart.  Perhaps both will eventually make it to production.

13 October 2017

have a look on youtube for "Tubotron 120 - CNC pipe bending machine" ( - that's the sort of machine they use to make the spaceframe structure, which would then be welded together. Then "resin transfer moulding" ( - how the composite panels are made. An image search for "istream chassis" will show you what the completed thing looks like. Then have a look at "BMW 3 Series Body Assembly Line" (

15 October 2017

apparently the moderators don't like replies having youtube addresses in them, so this is a couple of days late, and i'm going to try and get away with half only posting half (as in literally the seconf half) of the relevant addresses... cnc tube benders; watch?v=0GjVNHWjyCY and watch?v=pOcqZQAmMgU&t=114s show you how tubes are made for the spaceframe structure, which would then need welding together. This gives an idea of how the composite panels are made watch?v=1u-2GvhghQA which are then bonded to the complated spaceframe. If you now do an image search for iStream chassis, you'll see roughly where we're up to. Now, compare that to watch?v=LVtBjFUfFLE&t=97s which is the bmw 3 series bodyshop, from stamping to painting. Nissan sunderland has recently had a new press fitted which runs at 5200tons (that's not a typing error), and has multiple older ones which run at 50tons. The amount of energy which goes in to making a car is massive!

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