Yamaha eyes production for its oddball Tritown tilting three-wheeler
The Tokyo Motor Show is certainly no stranger to future-focused and crazy concept vehicles. Yamaha's Tritown personal mobility vehicle was far from the most eye-catching on the floor of the 2017 edition, but the company certainly has faith in the three-wheeler's practicality as it moves through a series of field tests with one eye on a developing a production version.
The Tritown makes use of the same Leaning Multi-Wheel technology used in earlier Yamaha concepts, such as the Tesseract four-wheel motorcycle and the Tricity three-wheel motorbike, which would go on to become a production model a year later.
Today's Tritown looks a little different to the one Yamaha showed off in 2017, with basically everything except for the chassis undergoing a redesign. The premise remains the same however, with the leaning mechanism built into the two front wheels and propulsion coming via an electric motor built into the rear wheel, which in turn is powered by a battery mounted on the frame.
Just like the earlier, aforementioned Yamaha concepts, the leaning wheel mechanism allows users to lean into turn as if they were on a bike or motorcycle, despite it featuring two wheels at the front. The advantage of that is that it won't tip over when stopped, like a bike or motorcycle would, and the footboards remain at the same level when turning.
Tilting is engaged through a locking mechanism on the steering tube combined with a squeeze of both brake levers, while applying weight to the footboards on either side of the frame. The throttle, meanwhile, is operated by a thumb lever also built onto the handlebars.
In its current form, the Tritown measures just over a meter (3.3 ft) in length and weighs around 40 kg (88 lb). Yamaha showed off this prototype at CES earlier in the year and then carried out a month-long testing phase in April with the general public in Japan invited to take it for a spin.
The feedback gathered through this and an upcoming testing phase, where the Tritown will be used for park tours in Japan, will help Yamaha work towards a production-ready version. The company imagines it could find its first use in closed off facilities like resorts and recreational centers.