It doesn't have the Porsche Mission E's guilt-free supercar performance or the Mercedes's ability to shape shift at higher speeds. It isn't even built by a car company, but the Yamaha Sports Ride, unveiled in October at the Tokyo Motor Show could well be the most important concept car of 2015.
It's a two-seat sports coupe with external lines that wouldn't look out of place at a McLaren or Ferrari dealership, and one that measures just 3.9m in length, 1.7m in width and stands just 1.17m tall. But what makes such a small car such a potentially big story is what lies beneath those lines -- a Gordon Murray-designed carbon fiber chassis.
Since leaving McLaren and having assured his place in automotive history as the mastermind behind the McLaren F1 supercar, Murray has been on a mission to revolutionize how cars are designed, developed and manufactured. His solution, called iStream, is an all-encompassing platform that cuts waste and vehicle weight, improves efficiency (of the car and the business) and can be used potentially by any company, big or small, to cost-effectively mass produce a host of different types of cars of different sizes and with different powerplant types.
"Light weighting is the final frontier in the automotive industry fight to lower emissions," said Murray of the platform and its use of affordable carbon fiber, a material that is traditionally out of reach for everyone but supercar makers and Formula One teams. "A step change in vehicle weight to enable downsizing of powertrain and components is all we have left in the armory. Light weighting is important for internal combustion engined cars, but even more important for hybrids and electric vehicles."
Although a concept, the Yamaha proves that the system is ready, and in 2016 further proof will arrive in the shape of the first all-new TVR sports car in a decade. Also designed by Murray, it will be an iStream production for rapidity of production, efficiency and for being able to react quickly to changing tastes and trends. One chassis could easily spawn a coupé, convertible and even a shooting brake with little or no extra work.
The Ford 2016 Trend Report published highlights this past week on how crucial being able to adapt and differentiate is going to be in the coming years for automotive brands. Over half of Millennials globally agree that standing out is more important than fitting in and that one size no longer fits all. And at the same time, there is a growing trend across age groups for favoring products that use recyclable materials or environmentally friendly means of production.