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Electric Car Era: New Business Models On Horizon

Against this breathtaking backdrop, newcomers with innovative business models are entering the race. One of the fresh faces is Noriyuki Hirosue, president of Comuca Inc., a company that offers hybrid vehicles through a car-sharing program. Until a year ago, Hirosue was working as the president of an Internet venture in Tokyo’s Shibuya district, overseeing such entities as online gaming firm Gala Inc. The car, the work of renowned auto designer Kiyoyuki Okuyama, would have three motors of different sizes, could accelerate to 100kph in just four seconds, and go 300km on a single charge. Last summer, Hirosue hustled in order to get this dream project off the ground, keeping a tight schedule and working the phones to connect with key people in the auto industry. Hirosue envisions a business model that breaks the mold of auto manufacturing and auto servicing, just as Dell Inc. did in the personal computer industry. The idea is to have a horizontal production process, with batteries made in South Korea, motors in Japan and chassis in Europe; all will be assembled into the complete car in the U.K. “In the future, the Dell model will be the normal way to do auto production,” Hirosue said. (June 22, 2009)