• Kyodo

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Four small companies in the Kansai region have jointly developed an electric vehicle with three wheels, three seats and a “purely traditional Japanese” design they hope will catch on in the tourism industry in ancient cities like Kyoto and Nara.

Among the Japanese touches on the steel vehicle are its two doors, which are made of “washi” (traditional Japanese paper) coated with vermilion lacquer.

The electric vehicle also sports more modern technologies, such as lithium-ion batteries that can be recharged using home electrical outlets. The batteries can drive the car at speeds of up to 40 kph.

The vehicle is already drawing inquiries from travel agencies and other tourism-related firms.

The car has a production cost of ¥2.30 million, excluding personnel expenses, and the companies, which plan to start marketing it next year on a build-to-order basis, are trying to lower that to less than ¥1 million.

Yodogawa Co., based in Moriguchi, Osaka Prefecture, played the leading role in the car’s development.

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