Japanese Language Lessons Go Online

Akihabara News (Tokyo) — The Intercultural Institute of Japan, a short stroll from JR Akihabara Station, has launched an online program for basic Japanese language lessons.

The Covid-19 pandemic had impacted the entire globe, cutting off most international travel opportunities and often isolating people within their own homes. Businesses in a range of industries have been scrambling to adapt to the new realities and the new lifestyles.

Fortunately, however, innovative companies are now stepping forward to meet social needs and, among Japanese language schools, the Intercultural Institute of Japan, already known among international students as one of the most enjoyable and effective places to gain a basic grasp of the language, is now offering flexible programs of online instruction.

The new program is called Chikamichi Online Japanese, which the company explains refers to a chikamichi (shortcut) both to a study abroad experience and to the students’ dreams of walking the road toward mastery of the Japanese language.

Those who are interested in learning more about the program are advised to send an email to incul@incul.com

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Japanese Language Lessons Go Online

Akihabara News (Tokyo) — The Intercultural Institute of Japan, a short stroll from JR Akihabara Station, has launched an online program for basic Japanese language lessons.

The Covid-19 pandemic had impacted the entire globe, cutting off most international travel opportunities and often isolating people within their own homes. Businesses in a range of industries have been scrambling to adapt to the new realities and the new lifestyles.

Fortunately, however, innovative companies are now stepping forward to meet social needs and, among Japanese language schools, the Intercultural Institute of Japan, already known among international students as one of the most enjoyable and effective places to gain a basic grasp of the language, is now offering flexible programs of online instruction.

The new program is called Chikamichi Online Japanese, which the company explains refers to a chikamichi (shortcut) both to a study abroad experience and to the students’ dreams of walking the road toward mastery of the Japanese language.

Those who are interested in learning more about the program are advised to send an email to incul@incul.com

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Japan Airlines

Foundation: 1951

Headquarters: Shinagawa Ward, Tokyo

President and CEO: Yuji Akasaka

Website

Japan Airlines is the nation’s flagship international airline company. Its annual income is in the range of US$15 billion.

News Timeline

2020

September

-Japan Airlines Innovation Fund invests in Volocopter with an eye to promote the development of the urban air mobility industry.

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JAL-Volocopter Pact on Air Taxis

Japan Airlines (Tokyo) — Japan Airlines (JAL) and Volocopter GmbH (Volocopter) entered into a cooperation agreement to promote the development of the urban air mobility industry for next generation air transportation options of passengers and goods.

In February 2020, Japan Airlines Innovation Fund invested in Volocopter, which is aiming to create and bring next-generation electrically powered air taxis and heavy lift cargo drone technology to the market, as part of their Series C funding round. With this agreement, JAL and Volocopter will strengthen their partnership to jointly explore business opportunities for air mobility services, specifically Volocopter’s eVTOL technology, in Japan.

The agreement outlines that Volocopter and JAL work on permanent sustainable commercial operations of air taxis in Japan. By establishing local partnerships, jointly approaching Japanese cities and prefectures and working on market demand and social acceptance, JAL and Volocopter will prepare for commercial launch in Japan within the next three years.

Volocopter GmbH, The pioneer in Urban Air Mobility, is developing urban air taxi services to add a new dimension of mobility to megacities. They are developing next-generation battery powered air taxis and heavy lift drones (eVTOL – electric Vertical Take-off and Landing aircraft). In October 2019, Volocopter successfully performed a piloted flight over Singapore’s Marina Bay and is currently focused on receiving commercial certification for their VoloCity aircraft by the EASA (European Union Aviation Safety Agency).

JAL will provide their in-depth knowledge accumulated via safe aircraft operation experience to a next-generation air mobility operation platform service. In addition, through air mobility services, JAL aims to deliver medical care in remote areas to achieve key sustainable development goals.

Today, JAL, Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance, and MS&AD InterRisk Research & Consulting, who are all invested in Volocopter, also announced a collaboration to accelerate Volocopters entry into the Japanese Market. The collaboration of airline operator, insurance provider, and business development partners, as well as an urban air mobility pioneer makes this approach a sustainable and promising one.

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A Look at Tokyo Torch

Akihabara News (Tokyo) — Mitsubishi Estate has provided concept images of its Tokyo Torch development, planned to open near Tokyo Station before the end of the March 2028. It’s most prominent feature, the 63-story Torch Tower, will be the largest skyscraper in Japan, taking the crown from Osaka’s Abeno Harukas.

These concept images have been published by Mitsubishi Estate.

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SkyDrive

Foundation: 2018

Headquarters: Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo

President: Tomohiro Fukuzawa

Website

SkyDrive Inc. is a Japanese company which focuses on the development of an electric vertical takeoff and landing, or flying car. Its annual income is unreleased.

News Timeline

2020

August

-SkyDrive issues a video on SkyDrive Project SD-03, an electric vertical takeoff and landing vehicle, which included a pilot on board. The vehicle flew for about five minutes. The firm said it hopes to have a sellable product by 2023.

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Toyota-Honda Tie Up on Mobile Power Generation

Honda (Tokyo) — Toyota Motor Corporation and Honda R&D Co. will create a mobile power generation/output system, Moving e, that consists of a fuel cell bus that can carry a large amount of hydrogen, portable external power output devices and portable batteries, and will begin demonstration testing of the system’s ability to deliver electricity anytime and anywhere.

When a power grid is damaged during a disaster such as typhoons and rainstorms, people suffer from an interruption in the supply of power to their homes and evacuation centers. To address this issue, Toyota and Honda will bring technologies together to create a mobile power generation/output system and conduct demonstration testing of delivering electricity to people.

Taking advantage of its mobility, the Moving e can be utilized as a “phase-free” system which can be used in times of a disaster to support disaster response by supplying electricity in an affected area, as well as in normal times for routine uses such as supplying power at an event. Through this demonstration testing, the two companies will confirm the actual needs of people and verify usability of the system.

The Moving e mobile power generation/output system will consist of:

●Toyota’s Charging Station fuel cell bus
●Honda’s Power Exporter 9000 portable external power output device
●Two types of Honda’s portable batteries: LiB-AID E500 and Honda Mobile Power Pack (MPP)
●Honda Mobile Power Pack Charge & Supply Concept charger/discharger for MPP

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Harry Potter Theme Park Opening in Tokyo

Itochu Corporation (Tokyo) — Warner Bros. Studio Tours, operator of “The Making of Harry Potter” in London; Warner Bros. Japan; Seibu Railway Co., Ltd.; Itochu Corporation; and Fuyo General Lease Co., Ltd. announced today that the parties have executed an agreement with regard to the development of “Warner Bros. Studio Tour Tokyo: The Making of Harry Potter” on a part of the current Toshimaen Amusement Park grounds located in Nerima-ku, Tokyo.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government plans to develop a public park on a plot which includes the current grounds of Toshimaen Amusement Park which is scheduled to close at the end of August this year. The development will be conducted in a phased manner. The Studio Tour Tokyo facilities will be developed in conjunction with the development of this park. The involved parties will continue to work in cooperation with Tokyoʼs park plans in furthering the development of the Studio Tour Tokyo facilities.

Lined with carefully maintained trees and surrounded by lush greenery, the area has a long history of being loved by many. Added to that, the easy access from the center of Tokyo makes the area an attractive location, the ideal setting for the Tour. The partners will create facilities suitable for this to become a popular new destination.

The Studio Tour Tokyo will be the second facility of its kind in the world, after London, and will offer a new type of experiential entertainment in Japan. Building on the success of the Harry Potter experience in London which has claimed unparalleled popularity and recognition, the indoor attraction will take visitors on a fascinating behind the scenes tour of the Wizarding World series.

Next year will mark the 20th anniversary of the release of the first “Harry Potter” film, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter has now been passed on to the Fantastic Beasts series, making the franchise an enduring and much loved one by multiple generations, as adults who grew up with Harry Potter now take their own families to the theaters.

The Studio Tour Tokyo will offer special features to enable visitors to deepen their understanding of the Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts worlds. Visitors can explore the iconic movie sets that were actually designed and built by the creators of the Harry Potter series. Showcasing original costumes and props, the indoor attraction invites visitors to experience scenes from the films firsthand and discover how the world’s favorite book series was brought to life on the screen.

The facility covers an area of about 30,000 square meters, and the exhibition space within the “sound stage” and “backlot” (outdoor filming area) zones will take approximately half a day to walk through.

Tickets allocation for the Studio Tour Tokyo will be controlled in a manner that allows the optimal number of people to be in the facility at any one time to ensure the best possible experience.

The open space just outside the Studio Tour Tokyoʼs entrance will be a landscaped area placing bespoke sculptures of mystical characters from the films, which will be accessible to the local residents and visitors alike.

The parties plan to work in cooperation with each other to proceed with the construction of the Studio Tokyo Tour, which is set to open in the first half of 2023.

Warner Bros. Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Ann Sarnoff: “We are delighted to be working with Seibu Railway Co. Ltd, Itochu Corporation, and Fuyo Group to bring this world-class attraction to Japan. Warner Bros. has been telling stories for almost 100 years, and Harry Potter is among our most popular and beloved. The Studio Tour Tokyo will continue this tradition while offering fans of all ages a unique way to get closer to the films and truly immerse themselves in the Wizarding World. As an established tourist destination with beautiful green spaces, Toshimaen is the perfect environment for this attraction. It is also important to us that the local community is involved in the development process, and we are looking forward to creating something very special.

Takashi Goto, President and Representative Director of Seibu Holdings Inc., Chairman of Seibu Railway Co., Ltd.: “We are really pleased to reach the agreement with Warner Bros. Japan LLC, Itochu Corporation, and Fuyo Group, introducing Warner Bros. Studio Tour Tokyo – The Making of Harry Potter, second only to the London, in the site of former Toshimaen Amusement Park.
Due to the grand open in the first half of 2023, we will proceed the construction of Warner Bros. Studio Tour Tokyo, cooperating with related parties. We are also considering various sales promotions including renewal of Toshimaen Station, by the cooperation between Warner Bros. Japan LLC and Seibu group companies such as Seibu Railway, in order to revitalize the areas along Seibu line, by which we try to offer added value to the local community.”

Itochu Corporation, Member of the Board Executive Vice President Tomofumi Yoshida: “Regarding Warner Brothersʼ proposal for making inroads into Japan through a studio tour, Itochu considered Toshimaen to be a suitable location surrounded by forest and close to central Tokyo, and made adjustments in cooperation with Seibu Railway and Warner Brothers. Subsequently, Fuyo General Lease Co., Ltd. joined the team and all related parties were able to start the realization of the studio tour at Toshimaen. Itochu will play a role in the development of buildings and intends to make every effort for the completion of a fantastic studio tour with the related parties.”

Fuyo General Lease Co., Ltd. President & CEO Yasunori Tsujita: “Fuyo General Lease sincerely welcome the Studio Tour to Japan and are very pleased to be a part of this project. We shall contribute to this project by providing Warner Bros. Japan with a long term lease of the Studio Tour facilities. While we have leased many pieces of our real estate to various customers, this is the first time the company will be contributing to this type of business. We strongly believe that our partnership with all parties involved will become an invaluable asset for us.”

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Toyota-Amazon Link Up for Cloud-Connected Cars

Toyota (Plano, Texas) — Toyota Motor Corporation and Amazon Web Services, Inc. (AWS), an Amazon.com company, are expanding their global collaboration, applying AWS’s vast portfolio of services to expand Toyota’s Mobility Services Platform (MSPF), an ecosystem to help Toyota engineers develop, deploy, and manage the next generation of data-driven mobility services for driver and passenger safety, security, comfort, and convenience in Toyota’s cloud-connected vehicles.

Toyota’s MSPF leverages the reliability and scalability of AWS’s global infrastructure, as well as development expertise from AWS Professional Services, to meet the challenge of processing and analyzing data from operations within Toyota’s worldwide fleet of connected vehicles. The MSPF and its application programming interfaces (API) will enable Toyota to collect data from connected vehicles and apply it towards vehicle design and development, new contextual services such as car share, rideshare, full-service lease, and new corporate and consumer services such as proactive vehicle maintenance notifications and driving behavior-based insurance.

The collaboration between Toyota and AWS extends to Toyota’s entire enterprise, and will help build a foundation for streamlined and secure data sharing throughout the company and accelerate its move toward CASE (Connected, Autonomous/Automated, Shared and Electric) mobility technologies.

In expanding Toyota’s relationship with AWS, Shigeki Tomoyama, Chief Information & Security Officer and Chief Production Officer at Toyota Motor Corporation, said, “Connectivity drives all of the processes of development, production, sales and service in the automotive business. Expanding our agreement with AWS to strengthen our vehicle data platform will be a major advantage for CASE activities within Toyota.”

“Toyota is leveraging the unmatched breadth and depth of AWS services to transform how it develops and manages new mobility services across its entire ecosystem of connected vehicles around the world,” said Andy Jassy, CEO of AWS. “By running on AWS, with its high performance, functionality, and security, Toyota is able to innovate quickly across its enterprise and continue to lead the automotive industry in delivering the quality of experiences that customers expect.”

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NTT Data

Foundation: 1988

Headquarters: Koto Ward, Tokyo

President: Yo Honma

Website

NTT Data was spun off as a separate company from NTT in 1988 to focus on providing consulting, system development, and business IT outsourcing services. Its annual income is in the range of US$20 billion.

News Timeline

2020

August

-NTT Data teams up with Taiwan’s CyberLink to conduct a smart retail pilot at an unstaffed Tokyu Hands concept store in Shibuya. It uses NTT Data’s voice-to-text and CyberLink’s facial recognition technologies to allow staff to operate without physical contact from offsite.

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Terra Drone

Foundation: 2016

Headquarters: Shibuya Ward, Tokyo

President: Toru Tokushige

Website

Terra Drone Corporation was established in February 2016 as a drone development business. Its annual income is undisclosed.

News Timeline

2020

August

-Terra Drone invests in Dutch drone firm Skytools to establish a drone hub in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, consisting of training facilities and research and development centers.

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e-Mobility Power

Foundation: 2019

Headquarters: Minato Ward, Tokyo

President: Shoko Yotsuyanagi

Website

e-Mobility Power was established in October 2019 as a joint venture between Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings (TEPCO) and Chubu Electric Power (Chuden) to increase accessibility to charging stations across the nation. Its annual income is undetermined.

News Timeline

2020

August

-e-Mobility Power Company selects Switzerland-based ABB to support the upgrading of the Japan’s electric vehicle charging infrastructure, replacing obsolete chargers with ABB Terra 184 units, beginning within a few months.

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KPMG Origins Aims to Secure Supply Chains

Akihabara News (Tokyo) — KPMG Origins, a joint Japan, China, and Australia project, is a blockchain-based track and trace platform, and its creators hope that it will revolutionize the management of supply chains.

“Today, supply chains are very complex,” Masatake Toyota, director of secure computing at KPMG Ignition Tokyo, told Akihabara News in a recent interview. “Each participant along the supply chain, which can be very long, would have at least one database. So you end up with many different databases for the whole supply chain.”

This reality can lead to a number of problems, especially when some of the data remains only in paper form and the databases are not standardized. This can easily lead to delays in information transmission, misinterpretations, and even fraud.

Supply chains for food products can also involve small-business farmers on one end, some of whom, especially in a country like Japan, may be elderly and not particularly tech savvy.

KPMG Origins offers a secure platform, based on the flexible blockchain framework Hyperledger Fabric, that allows participants in the supply chain to operate from a single source of information.

The advantages of this system are that the data along the supply chain becomes trusted and verified, that it offers realtime end-to-end information, and that control across national borders becomes seamless.

Those who employ KPMG Origins can access it through both desktop and mobile devices.

KPMG Ignition Tokyo, a company that launched last July, also offers supply chain mapping and training services to get its KPMG Origins customers up and running.

They are working on refinements such as voice control to make the product even more user friendly in future years.

KPMG Origins is only beginning to hit the markets this year, but several clients in Australia have already been engaged.

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KPMG Ignition Tokyo

Foundation: 2019

Headquarters: Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo

CEO: Masayuki Chatani

Website

KPMG Ignition Tokyo was established in July 2019 with a mandate to utilize cutting-edge digital technologies to serve KPMG Global clients by building cloud-computing and blockchain platforms and solutions. Its annual income is in the range of US$30 billion.

News Timeline

2020

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NEC Enters AI Emotions Analysis Alliance

NEC (Tokyo) — NEC Corporation, a leader in biometric authentication and video analytics technologies, and Realeyes OÜ, a leader in computer vision and emotion Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology, today announced they have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for a strategic partnership to jointly develop and distribute emotion analysis solutions globally.

Wireless 5G technologies and the Covid-19 pandemic have created a new way of life, where virtual meeting experiences are necessary and have become the default method for communication, collaboration, entertainment, and learning. Technologies that can help companies to safely and effectively understand how users are interacting with such services, and to respond to their needs, are now essential.

Realeyes, with its best-in-class emotion detection and analysis capabilities, is continuously expanding its products and services for measuring emotion and attention for global brands. Its innovations include predictive analytics and live measurement of attention and emotion response within streaming and mobile applications.

NEC, with a wide range of solutions that combine proprietary and sophisticated biometric authentication and video analytics technologies, is now accelerating its businesses in the hospitality and marketing fields.

This alliance’s combination of NEC’s biometric and video analytics technologies with Realeyes’ emotion analysis technology will enable digital transformation to enhance safe and robust user experiences across media, entertainment, education, healthcare, and communication verticals throughout the world.

“NEC has cultivated biometric authentication and video analytics technologies over many years, and we are excited to now be working in collaboration with Realeyes and their pioneering role in the new field of emotion AI,” said Toshifumi Yoshizaki, Senior Vice President, NEC. “These developments help to realize both companies’ objective of enriching people’s lives and contributing to the realization of a safe, secure, fair and efficient society.”

“This partnership with NEC advances our mission to bring a trillion more smiles to our planet,” said Mihkel Jäätma, CEO of Realeyes. “Our combined technologies along with NEC’s scale will accelerate innovation in making virtual experiences more human in an age where ‘eyes on screens’ and connecting virtually is the new normal.”

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Ory Laboratory

Foundation: 2012

Headquarters: Minato Ward, Tokyo

Co-Founders: Kentaro Yoshifuji and Aki Yuki

Website

Ory Laboratory aims to use technology “to help those who are somehow hindered in normal social participation to overcome such challenges.” Its annual income is undisclosed.

News Timeline

2020

July

-Avatar robot OriHime begins work at the Tokyo Osaki branch of Mos Burger for a month.

Avatar robot OriHime

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NTTe-Sports

Foundation: 2020

Headquarters: Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo

President: Hiroshi Nakamura

Website

NTTe-Sports was established in January 2020 by Nippon Telegraph and Telephone East Corporation (NTT East) as an esports firm that would make use of 5G networks and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to provide support for e-sports tournaments. Its annual income is undetermined.

News Timeline

2020

July

-NTTe-Sports announced that its eXeField Akiba inaugural e-sports facility would be opening on August 11 within the Akihabara UDX building.

eXeField Akiba

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MHI Launches Emirates Mars Mission

MHI (Tanegashima Space Center) – Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. (MHI) successfully delivered the Emirates Mars Mission’s (EMM) Amal spacecraft developed by the UAE Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) into orbit today via the H-IIA launch vehicle F42. The launch vehicle trajectory was executed as planned, and at about 57 minutes after liftoff, separation of the Amal spacecraft was confirmed.

Amal will be the first probe to provide a complete picture of the Martian atmosphere and its layers when it reaches Mars in 2021 to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the founding of the UAE.

The H-IIA launch vehicle is Japan’s flagship launch vehicle and one of the most reliable launch vehicles in the world. Today’s launch was the 45th consecutive successful H-IIA/H-IIB launch, with an accumulative success rate of 98.0%.

Ahmad Belhoul Al-Falasi, UAE Minister of State for Entrepreneurship and Small and Medium Enterprises and Chairman of the UAE Space Agency, said, “The successful launch of the Emirates Mars Mission Amal Probe today – the first interplanetary mission undertaken by any Arab nation – is a key milestone in UAE’s history. This mission exemplifies the ability of Emiratis to undertake ambitious missions. With this achievement, the UAE has become the youngest nation to successfully launch a mission to Mars within six years of project commencement. The success of Amal Probe is a huge leap forward for the UAE’s ambitious space program.”

Hamad Obaid Al-Mansoori, Chairman of Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre, said, “The successful launch of the Emirates Mars Mission Amal Probe is an outcome of seamless collaboration and tireless efforts by all the teams involved. Together, we overcame the challenges, and in a remarkable feat of human ingenuity and dedication, achieved this milestone as per schedule. This mission embodies the UAE’s commitment to contribute to the future of humankind through scientific exploration and knowledge-sharing. As we reach for Mars to accelerate the development of space, education, science, and technology sectors, the first Arab interplanetary mission symbolizes a new era of progress for the region. ”

Naohiko Abe, Senior Vice President and Head of Integrated Defense and Space Systems at MHI, said, “I would like to express my profound appreciation to all involved in the launch campaign for their devoted support and cooperation. In particular, I greatly appreciate the continuous support and cooperation of UAE’s Space Agency and MBRSC with us over the four years since MHI received the contract in March 2016. Today’s launch is the second H-IIA launch for the UAE government, following the observation satellite, Khalifasat, launched in 2018. The Emirates Mars Mission targets to reach Mars in 2021 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the founding of the UAE and I am proud that we launched successfully as scheduled today. I sincerely hope that the successful completion of the Mars mission by the spacecraft will bring hope and delight to people all around the world in the midst of this global crisis due to Covid-19. MHI values its relationships of trust we have built over the years with the UAE government and our customers and continues to provide launch services that flexibly address customers’ needs.”

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Mitsubishi Heavy Industries

Foundation: 1884

Headquarters: Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo

President and CEO: Seiji Izumisawa

Website

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) is a Japanese multinational engineering, electrical equipment, and electronics company headquartered in Tokyo. MHI is one of the core companies of the Mitsubishi Group. Its annual income is in the range of US$40 billion.

News Timeline

2020

July

-H-IIA Launch Vehicle No. 42 carries the Emirates Mars Mission’s (EMM) Amal spacecraft, developed by the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) in the United Arab Emirates, into space from the Tanegashima Space Center.

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Nissan Introduces the Ariya

Nissan (Yokohama) — Nissan today introduced the Nissan Ariya, an electric crossover SUV that lets customers travel farther while enjoying greater driving excitement, confidence and comfort, and connectivity.

With a 100% electric powertrain, the Ariya promises powerful acceleration and smooth, quiet operation. Drivers and passengers can relax and enjoy the ride thanks to autonomous driving technology, concierge-level assistance, connectivity, and a spacious, lounge-like interior. With an estimated range of up to 610 kilometers, the Ariya is perfect for daily commutes and weekend road trips alike.

CEO Makoto Uchida and Chief Operating Officer Ashwani Gupta unveiled the Ariya to a global audience during a livestreamed event at the new Nissan Pavilion in Yokohama.

“The Nissan Ariya is a truly beautiful and remarkable car,” Gupta said. “It enables you to go further, easier and in comfort. The Ariya is designed to impress, and to express what Nissan strives for – making our customers’ lives better.”

The Nissan Ariya is scheduled to go on sale in Japan in mid-2021. It will be priced at around ¥5 million (US$46,700). The Ariya is planned to go on sale in Europe, North America, and China by the end of 2021.

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