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A history of Yamaha Spirit of Challenge

Introducing the 50-year history of Yamaha outboard motors (1960-2010)

In 2010, fifty years have passed since the birth of the first Yamaha outboard motor. Now Yamaha Motor has established itself as the world's outboard motor brand and in March of 2010 the company's total outboard production reached the momentous 9 million mark. But, the history of this half century of Yamaha outboard motors has not always been a smooth sailing, there have been rough waters along the way. In this long history of trying to build outboards that will bring true joy and satisfaction to the world's users, there were many difficulties and obstacles to overcome. But, through it all, the Yamaha people involved in engineering, manufacturing, marketing and service, kept the "Spirit of Challenge" that is at the heart of Yamaha Motor's corporate culture and overcame every obstacle. They continued to open up new horizons by taking on new challenges.

ChallengeAn outboard development project started from scratch

The development project for the first Yamaha outboard motor began back in 1958 with a project staff of just two engineers. At the time, everything was new to them as they started from scratch to build the company's first marine engine. Soon after the project's start the staff grew in number and preparations began to move into production. At the time, however, there were no set standards for testing and the development process involved simply running the prototypes 24 hours a day and investigating how to improve the parts that broke down. The project had started from zero and its final result after overcoming many obstacles and hardships was Yamaha's first outboard motor model, the "P-7" that was marketed in Japan in 1960. In fact, however, it was still far from being a perfect outboard motor. For example, as one of the engineers from that time recalls, it was particularly loud and had a high level of vibration. This led to jokes from fishermen such as,"You can tell it is an outboard built by a musical instrument maker - it puts out quite a sound"

Yamaha's first outboard motor model, the "P-7"

The Showa Seisakusho factory where the first Yamaha outboards were manufactured

Market-orientedSecond model wins high acclaim in Japan

Even though the first Yamaha outboard, P-7, was the product of a start-from-scratch development project full of trials and errors, there is no doubt that the fruits of that initial challenge start Yamaha Motor on its path to becoming the leading global outboard brand it is today. And, based on that experience, Yamaha Motor would undertake the new challenge of building a more compact, lighter and quieter outboard. Those efforts led to the birth of the "P-3," Yamaha Motor's second commercial outboard model. This P-3 was the first outboard manufactured in Japan to use die-cast parts to further reduce weight and contribute to a more compact design. Unlike the P-7 development project, most of which was conducted by trial and error, the project to develop the P-3 included concerted efforts to directly reflect the opinions from the marketplace and the users. This began a tradition of Yamaha engineers making frequent visits to the marketplace to listen to the voices of the dealers and users. That tradition continues today in Yamaha Motor's market-oriented approach to product development that involves gathering information in each market from the people who actually use and service the products. Whenever there was a claim from a dealership, Yamaha engineers would go there immediately and listen to the reports of the dealers as well as the complaints and requests of the customers. The first test marketing was done in a market in Chiba prefecture in Japan where lobster fishing was popular at the time, and within a few years the entire harbor was filled with the distinctive yellow cowls of the P-3. In this way, the P-7 was born of a gritty but diligent project that overcame many obstacles, while the P-3 was the product of an equally diligent process that involved directly facing the realities of the use environment and responding to the voices from the market with sincerity. Both of these development processes remain firmly implanted in Yamaha Motor's corporate culture today.

From a pamphlet advertising the P-3

This owner used his P-3 for nearly 30 years (From the Yamaha Marine News published in 1990)

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