• Kyodo

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A Nagoya-based electronic parts maker has become an auto manufacturer with its release of Big Force, a one-person mini car that resembles a jeep.

With a 49cc motorcycle engine, the car, produced by Japtec Co., qualifies for registration in Japan as a road-legal minivehicle. Only a regular driver’s license is needed to use it.

Since its release in May, the company has sold about 80 of the vehicles, priced at ¥298,000 each.

The cars are 2 meters long and a meter wide, weigh about 150 kg, and can be carried in the back of a pickup truck. They are assembled in China.

Japtec Co. was established in 2005 by Iranian Zandi Mehdi Moghaddam, who came to Japan 24 years ago.

In the early years of his business, Moghaddam focused on selling printed circuit boards to automakers and other manufacturers. But struggling with a decline in orders following the 2008 global financial crisis, he decided to look for new business opportunities and switched to vehicle manufacturing.

Moghaddam, 50, said his idea was to start a business that encompasses everything from manufacturing to sales. He first launched a production line for three-wheel scooters, as many of the workers turned out to be motorcycle aficionados.

The company has so far produced and sold 15 types of vehicles, including the scooters.

“Our workers’ enthusiasm and commitment to work have contributed to our customers’ satisfaction,” Moghaddam said. “Our working environment has also improved.”

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