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Category Archives: News

Yamaha Motor Shows Off 4-wheeled Series HEV

Yamaha Motor Co Ltd unveiled a concept model of a four-wheeled series hybrid vehicle (HEV) at Tokyo Motor Show 2017, which was open to the public from Oct 28 to Nov 5, 2017

Side view of the 4-wheeled Series HEV

The HEV, “MWC-4,” can be driven with an ordinary motor vehicle license in Japan. The company defines the vehicle as an “ultra-small mobility.”

The most distinguishing feature of the MWC-4 is that it is equipped with a “leaning multi-wheel (LMW) mechanism” and runs on four wheels. Compared with Yamaha Motor’s two-wheeled vehicles and “Tricity MW125” three-wheeled vehicle, the running stability of the MWC-4 can be more easily improved.

“The basic technologies (of the MWC-4) are based on those of our three-wheeled vehicles such as the Tricity, but we renovated the shape of the mechanism,” Yamaha Motor said.

The previous mechanism consists of “parallelogram links” and “cantilever telescopic suspensions.” There are two links arranged in parallel with each other. The center of each link is fixed to an auto body so that they form a rectangular shape when the vehicle is turning.

Leaning Multi Vehicle Mechanism (LMW) of the 4-wheeled Series HEV

With this mechanism, the parallelogram links move the right and left suspensions to different positions when the vehicle is turning. The right and left wheels move in different directions (up and down) while being in parallel with each other. The vehicle leans its right and left wheels in a direction in which the driver moves the steering wheel.

This time, Yamaha Motor employed a double wishbone for both the front and rear wheels of the four-wheeled concept, in place of the rectangular link. The stability of the MWC-4 is high even when it is running at a high speed. The new system is being increasingly employed for four-wheeled sports cars.

Side View of the 4-wheeled Series HEV



The company made some original improvements to the concept car. For example, a shock absorber that absorbs impacts from the road surface is fixed while being separated from the vehicle frame.

Because the concept car is expected to be a series HEV, it stores electricity generated by an engine in a battery and runs on a motor. As an engine, Yamaha Motor plans to use a single-cylinder engine designed for two-wheeled vehicles, but the company said, “We are still considering engine performance and so forth.”

Yamaha Motor will probably use a new engine developed only for the MWC-4 because it eliminates the need to consider the compatibility with the transmission. The engine is transversely placed due to the limited installation space. The piston moves in the width direction of the vehicle.

The engine is placed under the seats. A fuel tank for the engine and the engine for power generation are located in the front and rear areas, respectively, under the seats. For power generation, it is necessary to rotate the engine at a constant rotation speed. Therefore, a vibration absorbing material is used to reduce the vibration transmitted to the seats.

The battery is located under the floor. When the engine and the fuel tank are detached, the MWC-4 can be used as an electric vehicle (EV).

Front and Rear double wishbone of the 4-wheeled Series HEV

“In consideration of practical drive range, a series HEV is desirable at this point,” Yamaha Motor said. “We will consider making it an EV when battery technologies advance.”

While Yamaha Motor is considering developing the MWC-4 as an EV, it is easier for the company, which has a strength in engine technologies for two- and four-wheeled vehicles, to develop a series HEV.

Right and left in-wheel motor of the 4-wheeled Series HEV

The MWC-4 is a rear-wheel-drive car that uses a water-cooled in-wheel motor (IWM) attached to each of the right and left rear wheels. It does not need differential gears, enabling to reduce weight. By controlling the torque applied to the right and left wheels, it becomes easier to realize swift driving through torque vectoring, etc.

The series HEV is equipped with a linear steering that is similar to the steering of a two-wheeled vehicle, and the steering is used to control the front wheels. As in the case of two-wheeled vehicles, the body of the MWC-4 is tilted by weight shift.

The vehicle measures 2,680 (L) x 900 (W) x 1,480mm (H). Though it has two seats, the rear seat is supplementary, Yamaha Motor said.

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Smart Diaper Generates Power From Urine

Ritsumeikan University prototyped a “wireless involuntary urination sensor system,” which notifies the user of the timing of replacing a paper diaper via wireless communication without using a battery.

The university expects that it will be used at nursing facilities that care patients of urinary incontinence. It demonstrated the system for mass media.

The system carries out wireless communication by using electricity generated by using urine. The amount of urine stored in the diaper is estimated from the interval of signal reception, and the user is notified of the optimal timing of replacing a diaper.

The system does not require a battery for wireless communication, and the paper diaper incorporating electrodes is disposable. The electronic circuit part (for wireless communication, etc) called “sensor” is expected to be repeatedly used.

 the prototyped paper diaper
The prototyped paper diaper. The “sensor” (electronic circuits) is located on the front side. The linear part seen through the diaper is an electrode.

The system was developed by Takakuni Douseki, who researches micro energy harvesting, etc as a professor at the Department of Electronic and Computer Engineering, Ritsumeikan University. For the demonstration, a commercially-available paper diaper for infants was modified. It contains (1) activated carbon that is 320mm in length and 5mm in width and (2) an aluminum electrode whose width is 1.8mm between absorbent and a waterproof sheet.

The current of electricity generated by the system increases as the amount of input urine increases. Also, at the time of pouring in urine, the current rapidly increases.

“I believe that the difference in current is caused by urine soaking into the fine pores of the activated carbon, realizing a high sensitivity,” Douseki said.

 Power generated by the prototyped paper diaper
The characteristics of the current of power generated from urine.
Electricity generated from urine is stored in a capacitor in the sensor. When the amount of urine reaches a certain level, the system transmits wireless signals. The number of involuntary urinations and the amount of urine can be estimated because (1) the interval of signal reception shortens in accordance with the amount of input urine and (2) the interval shortens especially at the time of pouring in urine.
Wireless communication is carried out when a certain amount of electricity is stored in the capacitor.
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FHI Remodels ‘BRZ’ Compact Sports Car

Fuji Heavy Industries (FHI) Ltd partially remodeled its “BRZ” compact sports car and will release it Aug 1, 2016.

remodeled brz sports car

The most distinguishing feature of the new model is its improved driving performance realized by making improvements to the engine. Its price ranges from ¥2,430,000 to 3,029,400 (approx US$24,174-30,137, including consumption tax). FHI aims to sell 220 units of it per month. It is manufactured at FHI’s Gunma Factory.side view of the brz sports car

The BRZ is a vehicle jointly developed by FHI and Toyota Motor Corp, and it is a “sibling” of Toyota’s “86.” The BRZ is an FR (front-engine, rear-wheel-drive) vehicle equipped with a 2.0L horizontally-opposed four-cylinder engine and comes with either a six-speed MT (manual transmission) or a six-speed AT (automatic transmission).

Interior of the brz sports car

For the new model, FHI made improvements to the shapes of the engine’s intake and exhaust manifolds and improved the rigidity of the part that connects the cylinder block and the cylinder head. Also, to increase the strength of the piston, the company used a shot-peening process and reduced the friction resistance of the cam shaft’s bearing. Moreover, the final reduction ratio was increased from 4.1 to 4.3.

As a result of those improvements, the MT vehicle has a maximum output of 152kW/7,000rpm and a maximum torque of 212N·m/6,400-6,800rpm, which are respectively 5kW and 7N·m higher than those of the current model. Its fuel efficiency is 11.8km/L (approx 27.8mpg) under the JC08 test mode.

Furthermore, FHI improved the rigidity of the entire body. In regard to the suspension, the company changed (1) the spring constant of the coil spring, (2) the internal structure and damping force of the damper and (3) the diameter of the rear stabilizer. As a result, maneuverability, stability and ride comfort were improved.

Remodeled Toyota 86 sibling of the BRZ

Toyota will also release a partially-remodeled 86 Aug 1, 2016. Its price ranges from ¥2,623,320-3,250,800 (including consumption tax). The company aims to sell 500 units of it per month.

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Sharp’s Refrigerator Cools Food Even During Power Failure

Sharp Corp will release a refrigerator that can keep cooling food even during a power failure.

The refrigerator is combined with either a solar power generation system or a storage battery. When its power plug is connected to a special power outlet, the storage battery automatically starts supplying electricity to the refrigerator about five seconds after a power failure occurs.Refrigerator Model JH-DT55B

The entire refrigerator can be cooled for about three days. However, if the refrigerator is operated in the “power failure mode,” which cools only the freezer, it can be operated for four days or longer. If the freezer is used for cooling food, not freezing it, the stored power lasts for 10 days or longer

Shown here is the 551L  Model JH-DT55B priced 480,000yen by the manufacturer.


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Power-generating Glass Windows Installed at Facility in Yokohama

Asahi Glass Co Ltd (AGC) announced April 27, 2016, that its “Attoch (for solar power generation)” solar cell-embedded glass window has been employed for “Kirin Yokohama Beer Village” in Yokohama City, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan.

According to AGC, the Attoch is a glass plate featuring both energy saving and energy creation capabilities, and this is the first time that it has been employed for actual use.

solar cell-embedded glass windows displayed

Kirin Yokohama Beer Village is a facility for visitors to taste Kirin Co Ltd’s beverages and is located on the premises of the company’s Yokohama Plant. It was renovated for the 90th anniversary of the plant, and the solar cell-embedded glass windows were installed as part of Kanagawa Prefecture’s “Project for Expanding Use of Thin-film Solar Cells.”

The tasting room has a large opening and is facing southwest. It received strong sunlight, making visitors feel hot. Therefore, Kirin introduced the power-generating solar cell-embedded glass windows. The company said that the concept of “ensuring a field of view, blocking heat and generating electricity with sunlight” matched its needs.

In addition to the energy saving and energy creation capabilities, the Attoch (for solar power generation) can be set up from the inside of a building, eliminating the need for scaffolding. As a result, it enables to shorten construction period and reduce costs, compared with the renovation of normal windows.

Also, the construction time per window is as short as 30 to 60 minutes, and it can be installed in any season. It mitigates summer heat and winter cold and prevents dew condensation, realizing a comfortable living environment.

AGC realized the improvement of power generation efficiency and a field of view by cutting monocrystalline solar cells into a bamboo blind-like shape. The Attoch is formed by sandwiching solar cells between laminated glass plates.

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Tomy Shows Off Toy Car With ‘Air Engine’

A “speed war” is breaking out in the toy industry, and the war is being led by the “air engine car” and “lineaBakuon Bakusou Air Zero with air enginer liner.”

The former is “Bakuon Bakusou Air Zero” developed by Sega Toys Co Ltd. It is a toy car powered by air pressure. The latter is Tomy Company Ltd’s “Linear Liner Superconducting Linear L0 Series Special Set,” which is a toy linear motor car that is powered by magnetic force and can run while floating.

Air engine car

For the Bakuon Bakusou Air Xero, air is sent to the auto body with a dedicated external pump to store compressed air in it. A piston is moved by using the force that discharges the compressed air, and the power is transmitted to wheels. The maximum speed of the air engine car is 20km/h. If the toy car were made in real scale, its speed would be 750km/h (scale speed).

Rear View of the Bakuon Bakusou Air Zero with air engine


The product will be released July 16, 2015, in Japan. Its manufacturer’s suggested retail

price, when sold as the “starter kit,” which includes the dedicated pump, auto body, etc, is ¥1,800 (excluding tax, approx US$14.6). In the “category of boys’ toys,” it was given one of the five “awards for excellence” that are given in each category at Nippon Toy Award 2015.

Linear liner

On the other hand, the maximum speed of the linear liner is about 6km/h, and its scale speed is 500km/h. It is scheduled to be released in September 2015. Its manufacturer

Bottom side of the Bakuon Bakusou Air Zero with air engine‘s suggested retail price is ¥35,000 (excluding tax).

At Nippon Toy Award 2015, it was given the grand prize, which is given to one of the five winners of an award for excellence in the category of “innovative toys.” The category is targeted at toys that are excellent in material or technology or whose novelty has been acknowledged.

Linear liner rival to the air engine

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Subaru Legacy Ranks 1st in Collision Safety

Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) and National Agency for Automotive Safety & Victims’ Aid (NASVA) announced the results of the “Automotive Assessment (for fiscal 2014),” which compares the safety performances of commercially-available cars, May 8, 2015.

In the “collision safety evaluation,” which evaluates safety against accidents, 10 of the 13 vehicles tested were given the top rating of “five stars.”

In the collision safety evaluation, the safety of each vehicle type is evaluated based on the actual data (e.g. the results of collision tests using actual vehicles and advanced safety technologies). According to MLIT, the average score on the evaluation is showing an increasing trend. In fiscal 2014, a new record of 182.5 points was marked, and 71.4% of the vehicles tested were given five stars.

“It indicates that vehicle safety is improving overall,” MLIT said.

The 10 five-star vehicles are Toyota Motor Corp’s “Voxy/Noah/Esquire” and “Harrier,” Nissan Motor Co Ltd’s “Teana,” Fuji Heavy Industries (FHI) Ltd’s (Subaru) “Forester,” “Levorg/WRX” and “Legacy,” Honda Motor Co Ltd’s “Vezel” and “Grace” and Mazda Motor Corp’s “Mazda3” and “Demio.”

Of the ten vehicles, FHI’s Legacy was given the highest score (188.8/208). Also, Nissan’s Teana and Honda’s Grace received a perfect score in the “test of neck protection performance at the time of a rear-end collision,” which evaluates the amount of load applied to the neck by a vehicle behind, for the first time in the history of the Automotive Assessment.

In addition to the collision safety evaluation, the Automotive Assessment includes the “preventive safety performance assessment,” which evaluates advanced safety technologies that prevent accidents from occurring, and “child seat assessment.”

“It is necessary to have assessments designed for the traffic conditions in Japan,” the Committee for Evaluation and Review for the Automotive Assessment said. “The number of traffic deaths was 4,113 in 2014, but two-thirds of them are pedestrians and drivers of two-wheeled vehicles. In view of reducing the number of casualties, preventive safety assessments, which reduce the number of accidents, are important.”

The committee will add the evaluation of “device to provide rear-view information,” which displays a rear view on an automotive monitor,” to the preventive safety performance assessment in fiscal 2015.

The following are the 10 five-star vehicles.

Toyota voxy ranked in collision safety Toyota Harrier ranked in collision safety Nissan Teana ranked in collision safety Subaru Forester ranked in collision safety Subaru Levorg ranked in collision safety Subaru Legacy ranked in collision safety Honda Vezel ranked in collision safety Honda Grace ranked in collision safety Mazda Axela ranked in collision safety Mazda Demio ranked in collision safety


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