Raw Japan

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Honda’s Asimo saves the day

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Talk about a clever PR ploy. Instead of looking miserly with a subdued presence at the Geneva auto show, Honda Motor drew attention to its latest hybrid car by employing another of its technological wonders: the Asimo humanoid robot.

Japan’s No.2 carmaker usually holds full-blown press conferences at international auto shows as is the industry norm, with the chief executive on hand to talk up the company’s achievements and product offerings in front of hundreds of journalists.

But with cash preservation the name of the game these days, Honda decided to try something else: replace the CEO with the now-famous Asimo, a 120 cm-tall, bubble-headed robot to introduce the Insight hybrid. Asimo is another “product” that Honda hopes to market one day as a “personal mobility” assistant to help the elderly or do simple work around the office such as distributing mail.

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“It was cheaper than flying the CEO over from Tokyo for the show,” spokesman Shigeki Endo told me before the show, which opened to the media on Tuesday. This Asimo – Honda has several, including one at its headquarters in Tokyo – resides at a studio in Brussels.

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