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Yamaha unveils hybrid scooter, ‘stretch’ motorbike

Japan’s Yamaha Motor, racking up record profits, has wheeled out its motorcycles of the future ranging from a hybrid scooter to an electric bike with in-wheel motors and adjustable body.

The Deinonychus two-wheel drive electric vehicle is equipped with motors built into the wheels and has ‘stretch’ functions in the vertical and horizontal directions for the aluminum frame body, Yamaha said in a statement.

It is possible to adjust not only the riding position but also the silhouette of the chassis to fit the rider’s body size, riding environment, road surface conditions and personal preferences, it said.

The Gen-Ryu, a gas-electric prototype scooter, has a 600-cc engine displacement and is billed as performing and handling like a 1,000-cc class machine thanks to its large diameter wheels and long wheelbase, Yamaha said.

The futuristic-looking scooter is also equipped with rider-friendly functions such as a vehicle-to-vehicle distance warning, voice navigation and rear view monitoring system using a CCD camera and liquid crystal display.

The FC-me fuel-cell motorbike uses a liquid methanol-water solution, which eliminates the need for a converter and pressurized fuel tank and thus makes it possible to create a lightweight system for a small vehicle, the firm said.

The model weighs 69 kilograms (152 pounds).

The group unveiled the models at the Tokyo Motor Show, which will be open to the general public from Saturday following a press preview this week.

Yamaha, which also sells boat engines and all-terrain vehicles and has signed up MotoGP world champion Valentino Rossi for its motorsport team, is riding high again after recovering from a difficult period a few years ago.

In 2004 Yamaha Motor posted net profit of 38.2 billion yen, more than five times a surplus of 7.6 billion made in 2001.

With a restructuring drive paying dividends, this year it expects to almost double its net profit to 60 billion yen, despite fierce competition from Japanese rivals Honda and Suzuki.

The robust motorcycle business in Asia has been contributing greatly to our sales and profits, a Yamaha spokesman said at the show.

Currency rates are also stable, he said, adding the company was also benefiting from strong sales of outboard motors and industrial-use robots as well as good demand for buggies mainly in the United States.

The official said it would take some time before electric motorbikes take to the roads of Asia as companies need to clear the hurdles of lowering costs and enlarging battery capacity. — AF

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