November 29, 2000

Welfare Vehicle Sales Performance For The First Half Of Fiscal Year 2000 (April - September)

Hand in hand with the aging of Japan's population, needs are growing for home nursing care, and participation in society by handicapped individuals is expanding. The enactment of the "Transportation Accessibility Improvement Law (The Law for Promoting Easily Accessible Public Transportation Infrastructure for the Aged and the Disabled" on November 15 of this year closely reflects these and other trends pointing to a steady rise in the social requirements and concern with welfare.

Automobile manufacturers and other companies affiliated with the automotive industry are taking to heart the importance of their roles in a society characterized by increased aging and welfare, and are striving to develop and supply a wide range of welfare vehicles for this purpose. For its part, the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association (JAMA) established the "Welfare Vehicle Working Group" in April 1997, with that group active ever since in compiling facts on the scale of this market both in Japan and abroad, production and distribution of pamphlets and other education and public relations, submission of proposals and demands to government authorities and other pertinent efforts.

As one phase of its activities, this Working Group has strived to obtain a reliable statistical perception of the domestic sales of welfare vehicles, compiling unit sales figures dating back to fiscal 1992. With this data having recently been organized and coordinated, the decision has been made to compute and announce the said figures for each fiscal half-year.

Overview
The welfare vehicle market is in an increase trend, with this being particularly true from fiscal 1995 -- the year which marked the genuine emergence of senior citizen related demand. It was from around this time that Japanese automakers launched full-fledged entries into the minicar market for such vehicles, while demand steadily grew for seat-lift and revolving seat equipped cars in the small-size vehicle sector. With these developments as the primary factors, the welfare vehicle market has recorded healthy growth in excess of 30% per year ever since.

Sales Rundown for First Half of Fiscal 2000 (Trends by Vehicle Type)
Aggregate unit sales during the first half of fiscal 2000 (April-September) were 14,132 vehicles, an increase of 42.8 percent compared to the same six-month period last year.

  1. Minicars: FY2000 first half sales were 2,821 units, up 78.1 percent from the first half of last year, as needs continue to run strong. Minicars are popular for their low price and ease of handling by lady drivers, and its welfare type's growth was focused on wheelchair specification vehicles. The decline in FY1998 was due mainly to purchase reluctance accompanying the revision in minicar standards that year.
  2. Small-size vehicles: FY2000 first half sales were 10,035 units, up 37.4 percent from the first half of the previous year. The solid growth was focused on wheelchair specification vehicles linked to the increase in senior citizens, while the introduction of seat-lift and revolving seat models from 1994 on further stimulated demand.
  3. Buses: FY2000 first half sales were 1,276 units, up 26.5 percent from the same period of the previous year. Demand has continued to run strong in this sector, buoyed by the move to barrier free status in public transportation systems.

Notes:

  1. Because unit sales were compiled for figures identifiable as JAMA member automakers, these statistics do not necessarily include units brought in directly by users to conversion companies for remodeling.
  2. Because model classification is based on the equipment standard adopted by the Welfare Vehicle Working Group, it differs from that of the Road Trucking Vehicle Law.
    • Small-size vehicles include both passenger cars and commercial vehicles (van types).
    • For small-size "driving assist device equipped vehicles," the actual new vehicle market scale for FY1999 is estimated at about 5,000 units.
    • "Other" refers to modifications responding to individual needs, stretchers, revolving rear seats, etc.
    • As a general rule, 11-seater plus vehicles are considered to be "buses" and 10-seater and under models "microbuses" (small-size vehicles). This differs from the definition of "buses" under the Road Trucking Vehicle Law classification.