Yamaha Motor was born when Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd. was established in Japan in July 1955, it was a relative latecomer in a market where as many as 150 motorcycle manufacturers competed for survival. New ones were starting up and others were folding at a tremendous pace, and few survived the challenge. In Yamaha Motor’s story, you will recognize the spirit of challenge in these early years that forged the company into the global corporate group they are today, in pursuit of the perpetual goal of being best in the world market.
It all began when then president of Nippon Gakki, (now Yamaha Corporation,) Genichi Kawakami, put to use some machining equipment used in the production of metal airline propellers to develop the first Yamaha motorcycle. It was the YA-1, nicknamed “Aka-tombo” which means red dragonfly.
With a starting capital of 30 million yen, 274 employees and two single-story wooden factory buildings with a capacity to turn out 200 motorcycles a month, the fledgling company dared to confront competition, a will that came to forge the company spirit of challenge. Yamaha entered the first YA-1 in the Mt. Fuji Ascent Race and won. From there on, their employees moved with determination from one challenge to the next, working as a team, sharing victories and setbacks.
Yamaha’s in-depth knowledge of 2-stroke technology led to the Company’s diversification in 1960 into the outboard engine market. 1970 witnessed the launch of the 650cc XS-1, Yamaha’s first 4-stroke motorcycle, and during this decade the company diversified into the manufacture of a range of new products including All Terrain Vehicles, golf cars, generators and industrial robots. This was followed in the 1980’s by the development of high-performance car engines and water vehicles.
1998 will be remembered by motorcyclists for many years to come, because it was the year that Yamaha launched the YZF-R1, widely acclaimed as the most remarkable super sport model of the decade. Equipped with race-bred engine and chassis technology, the R1 further underlines Yamaha’s commitment to offering products that generate “Kando” the first time, and every time.