Japan's Automakers Turn To Anime To Help Sell Cars



TOKYO – What do Japanese animated films (anime) and automobile industries have in common? They are joining forces together, bringing product placement (in this case Japanese cars and motorcycles) to animation.

Carmaker Subaru and famous anime studio Gainax collaborated on the web series Hōkago no Pleiades (Wish Upon the Pleiades), a story about a young girl named Subaru who discovers that her best friend has magical powers. No Subaru cars are shown in the series, but the goal of the series was to show what Subaru cars were about: its "essence."

In another production, Rinne no Lagrange (Lagrange: the flower of Rin-ne), the big robot was designed by Nissan Motors.

Movies sometimes also use real car or motorcycle models. Junichi Sato's series One Off is about a young girl who "loves her Honda Giorno scooter."

This kind of collaboration has proved profitable for both sides.

In another anime series, PES: Peace Eco Smile, a romantic comedy featuring an alien named PES, Toyota wanted its cars to be featured "in a casual manner," says sales and marketing coordinator Takao Mirai.

Today in Japan, the younger generation is less and less interested in cars. Carmakers are scrambling to find new ways to appeal to this market and collaborating with anime studios is one of them.

"We don't mind if people do not buy our cars directly after watching the anime. The important thing is for our image to be associated with a company which is doing cool things," says Mirai.

Such partnerships are already common for motorcycle industry. Popular superhero Kamen Rider (The masked rider) has been running Honda bikes for decades.

(One Off: A young lady and her Honda scooter. Photo- 7th Style)

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In Argentina, A Visit To World's Highest Solar Energy Park

With loans and solar panels from China, the massive solar park has been opened a year and is already powering the surrounding areas. Now the Chinese supplier is pushing for an expansion.

960,000 solar panels have been installed at the Cauchari park

Silvia Naishtat

— Driving across the border with Chile into the northwest Argentine department of Susques, you may spot what looks like a black mass in the distance. Arriving at a 4,000-meter altitude in the municipality of Cauchari, what comes into view instead is an assembly of 960,000 solar panels. It is the world's highest photovoltaic (PV) park, which is also the second biggest solar energy facility in Latin America, after Mexico's Aguascalientes plant.

Spread over 800 hectares in an arid landscape, the Cauchari park has been operating for a year, and has so far turned sunshine into 315 megawatts of electricity, enough to power the local provincial capital of Jujuy through the national grid.

It has also generated some $50 million for the province, which Governor Gerardo Morales has allocated to building 239 schools.

Abundant sunshine, low temperatures

The physicist Martín Albornoz says Cauchari, which means "link to the sun," is exposed to the best solar radiation anywhere. The area has 260 days of sunshine, with no smog and relatively low temperatures, which helps keep the panels in optimal conditions.

Its construction began with a loan of more than $331 million from China's Eximbank, which allowed the purchase of panels made in Shanghai. They arrived in Buenos Aires in 2,500 containers and were later trucked a considerable distance to the site in Cauchari . This was a titanic project that required 1,200 builders and 10-ton cranes, but will save some 780,000 tons of CO2 emissions a year.

It is now run by 60 technicians. Its panels, with a 25-year guarantee, follow the sun's path and are cleaned twice a year. The plant is expected to have a service life of 40 years. Its choice of location was based on power lines traced in the 1990s to export power to Chile, now fed by the park.

Chinese engineers working in an office at the Cauchari park


Chinese want to expand

The plant belongs to the public-sector firm Jemse (Jujuy Energía y Minería), created in 2011 by the province's then governor Eduardo Fellner. Jemse's president, Felipe Albornoz, says that once Chinese credits are repaid in 20 years, Cauchari will earn the province $600 million.

The Argentine Energy ministry must now decide on the park's proposed expansion. The Chinese would pay in $200 million, which will help install 400,000 additional panels and generate enough power for the entire province of Jujuy.

The park's CEO, Guillermo Hoerth, observes that state policies are key to turning Jujuy into a green province. "We must change the production model. The world is rapidly cutting fossil fuel emissions. This is a great opportunity," Hoerth says.

The province's energy chief, Mario Pizarro, says in turn that Susques and three other provincial districts are already self-sufficient with clean energy, and three other districts would soon follow.

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