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Friday, 20th April 2012
In Business In Japan,

Tokyo businesses celebrate Sky Tree with electric vehicle

A new electric vehicle has been created in Japan but not by one of the country's huge international car manufacturers.

While Nissan and Toyota are both busy building their own electric cars, a group of small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) in Japan have clubbed together to make one themselves.

The new vehicle, known as the Hokusai-III, was constructed to commemorate the grand opening of the Tokyo Sky Tree, the tallest tower and the second-tallest structure in the world, the Mainichi Daily reported.

Twelve SMBs from the Sumida ward of the Japanese capital pooled their skills and resources to create the eco-friendly car, which is constructed from lightweight aluminium and uses energy-efficient LED lighting. Inside, the vehicle has a wooden dashboard and steering wheel.

Five years ago, businesses from the ward joined forces in setting up a committee dedicated to developing new products, but none of them had ever built a car.

Early designs were beset by problems and two initial prototypes were deemed failures before the Hokusai-III was born.

In acknowledgement of their local area, the group named the vehicle after Katsushika Hokusai, an artist who lived in Sumida during the Edo period.

Discussing their achievement, Yoshinori Suzuki, leader of the 12-strong group and president of Sumida Denzaisya Co, told the news provider that the car showed what SMBs could achieve.

"There's a lot of depressing news when it comes to small and mid-sized companies, but there are a lot of local factories with superior technology," he said.

"We now know that if we work together, dreams will definitely come true."

The vehicle will now be displayed at an event in Sumida celebrating the Sky Tree's opening.

Last month, Japanese car maker Nissan announced that it would build its latest electric vehicle, the Leaf, at its plant in Sunderland, England.

Written by Graham McPherson

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