If you think a Mercedes pickup truck is a bit too smooth and docile for grunt work, wait until you familiarize yourself with the Cross Hub concept from Yamaha. While this truck would likely get you ridiculed straight off the grounds of any job site, it's more of a recreational machine meant to get you, three friends and two (Yamaha) motorcycles from the center of the city to the outskirts of the mountains and beyond. With the help of an odd diamond-shaped seating layout, Yamaha uses it to bridge the gap between its road and recreation lines.
More than styling or technology, the Cross Hub is an experiment in packaging. Yamaha wanted to design a compact, rugged pickup truck that could maneuver both tight trails and narrow city corridors while carrying a pair of Yamaha motorcycles – or perhaps e-bikes –out of town and into the mountains or forest. The truck measures 177 inches (4,490 mm) in length, nearly 3 feet (914 mm) shorter than the Mercedes X-Class, Toyota Tacoma or Honda Ridgeline.
It seems like a two-seat interior would have been the obvious way for Yamaha to go, particularly with a bed sized for two bikes, but it was hell-bent on going four. Fitting those four seats inside the short, narrow cabin entailed rethinking the interior layout, rotating things to create a diamond-shaped seating arrangement with a central driving position, a rearmost seat behind it and two side seats. The side seats aren't entirely in their own row, set only slightly back from the front seat – so it's a rather scrunched diamond.
The two-motorcycle bed is a bit misleading since it seems to fit only one full-size bike situated diagonally with a kid's bike slid beside it – so more of a 1.5-bike size. That bed is dressed with a boat-style wood floor and closed off with a boomerang-like half tailgate that can be left open to accommodate longer gear. If bikes aren't your thing, you could always fill that bed up with a Yamaha ATV or snowmobile.
The Cross Hub's styling is an interesting blend of car and truck design. The central-drive nature is reflected outside with a triangular nose, an element adapted from the 2015 Sports Ride Concept. The strong, upright grille and skid plate below the nose lend some rugged, truck-like presence, and barely-there headlights peek out from between the hood and contrast front fenders.
Yamaha emphasizes the split between cabin and bed with large gashes between the bed sides and cabin walls. It looks interesting enough on a concept truck, but we'd be worried the thing would get filled with rocks and mud, if not crack clean in half on the first major pothole.
With the right frame and suspension below, a Cross Hub truck could be a whole lot of fun off-road and practical for cargo hauling back in the city. We'd certainly love to test one with a potent electric drive or turbo engine running the show and maybe a basic two-seat layout in place of the diamond-4. But the Cross Hub is just a design study, and Yamaha doesn't even bother to list any specs beyond brushless motor, lithium-ion battery and dimensions: 177 x 77 x 69 in (4,490 x 1,960 x 1,750 mm, L x W x H).
The Cross Hub made its debut at the Tokyo Motor Show, where it's on display with the impressive tilting Niken three-wheeler and a variety of other Yamaha two-, three- and four-wheelers.