April 25, 2003

"Assisted Mobility" Vehicle Sales Results for Fiscal 2002
[April 2002 through March 2003]

Japan's market for so-called assisted mobility vehicles has charted an increase in sales in recent years, bolstered mainly by the demand for vehicles designed for elderly drivers. Particularly appealing are small-size vehicles and mini-vehicles equipped with seat-lift functions or revolving seats. In fiscal 2002, furthermore, enforcement of the Accessible and Usable Transportation Act led to notable increases in demand for low floor-type (also called “non-step”) route buses, with aggregate sales of barrier-free vehicles charting an 11.9% rise over the previous year to 37,796 units. The demand for such vehicles has shown steady growth since fiscal 1992, the first year that official statistics were compiled for this market sector in Japan.

Fiscal 2002 Sales Results by Vehicle Type

(1) Mini-Vehicles
Fiscal 2002 sales of mini-vehicles in the assisted mobility niche totalled 8,868 units, an increase of 12.5% over 2001. The relatively low prices and easy handling of these vehicles are proving to be popular, with the introduction of models equipped with seat lifts, revolving seats and other features continuing to support solid demand.

(2) Small-Sized Vehicles
Sales of small-size vehicles in this market segment totalled 24,517 units in 2002, up 10.4% from the previous year. The growing number of senior citizens in Japan is strengthening the demand for vehicles equipped for wheelchair users, with models built for easy entry and exit also registering increased sales. The vehicles serving as the base for these models are, increasingly, minivans, which have enjoyed strong market acceptance for some time now, and compact cars, whose popularity has recently been on the rise.

(3) Buses
Fiscal 2002 sales of barrier free-type buses came to 4,411 units, up 19.3% from the previous year. In addition to new demand for these buses for public transportation, the enforcement as of November 2000 of the Accessible and Usable Transportation Act has sparked the replacement of conventional route buses with low-floor models. Replacement of models under the further impact of an automobile NOx/PM law, a Tokyo metropolitan area ordinance and other legislation has also contributed to a steady rise in demand for these buses, especially for the route-use types.


  1. These statistics are based on unit sales data obtainable from Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association (JAMA) member companies, and thus do not include vehicles remodelled at the initiative of individual vehicle owners.
    • The market for vehicles equipped with drive-assist systems is estimated at approximately 5,000 units (including vehicles remodelled at the initiative of individual vehicle owners, for which data is unavailable from JAMA or its member companies).
  2. The vehicle categories listed here have been established by a working group on assisted mobility vehicles on the basis of equipment standards, and thus differ from vehicle categories established under Japan's Road Vehicles Act.
    • Small-size vehicle statistics include both passenger cars and commercial vehicles (van types).
    • Other types include customized versions which may feature stretcher-bearing equipment, revolving rear seats, and so on.
    • Vehicles carrying 11 or more occupants are classified as buses, while those built for 10 or less occupants are referred to as microbuses (small-size vehicles). Again, these categories differ from those established under the Road Vehicles Act.