April 27, 2004

Expanded Sales of Assisted-Mobility Vehicles in Fiscal 2003
Mini- & Small-Sized Vehicles and Buses All Register Growth

The past several years have witnessed a sharp rise in demand for so-called assisted-mobility vehicles in Japan, reflecting the growing and diversifying mobility needs of senior citizens among other factors. This demand has focused on both mini-vehicles and small-sized vehicles equipped with seat-lift functions or engineered to carry wheelchairs.

Fiscal 2003 (April 2003 through March 2004) also saw increased growth in sales of assisted-mobility low-floor buses under the impact of Japan’s new Automobile NOx-PM Act - regulating emissions of nitrogen oxides and particulate matter - as well as metropolitan Tokyo ordinances and other legislation promoting environmental protection and improved passenger access and comfort, all of which had the combined effect of stimulating replacement purchases of vehicles complying with these various regulations.

As a result, assisted-mobility sales climbed to a total of 44,023 units in fiscal 2003, an increase of 16.5% over the previous year. Demand for these vehicles has been rising steadily since 1992, the first year that official statistics were compiled in Japan for this market sector.

2003 Sales Data by Vehicle Type

(1) Mini-Vehicles
Sales of assisted-mobility mini-vehicles in 2003 totalled 9,785 units, up 10.3% from 2002. These vehicles, and in particular the wheelchair-mountable models, are becoming increasingly popular for their low price and easy handling, especially at welfare facilities (for use in transporting individual patients) and among private users.

(2) Small-Sized Vehicles
Sales of small assisted-mobility vehicles in 2003 totalled 28,015 units, up 14.3% from 2002. Growth was particularly strong in sales of wheelchair-friendly vehicles and of elevator seat-equipped and other easy-to-board-and-exit models. Sales in this category were stimulated by increased demand from welfare facilities and the introduction of new and revamped models.

(3) Buses
Assisted-mobility bus sales in 2003 totalled 6,223 units, up a robust 41.0% over the previous year. Factors behind this surge include, in addition to the steady popularity of buses in this market segment, the shift to low-floor route buses in response to the Accessible and Usable Transportation Law (passed in November 2000) and the purchase of replacement models in order to comply with new national and local regulatory requirements as described above. Sales of assisted-mobility buses in metropolitan Tokyo and the greater Tokyo region (including three surrounding prefectures) are expected to remain buoyant.


  • The statistics provided here are based on unit sales data obtainable from JAMA member companies, and thus do not include vehicles that have been remodelled at the initiative of individual vehicle owners.
    *The market for vehicles equipped with drive-assist systems is estimated at roughly 5,000 units (including vehicles remodelled at the initiative of individual owners, for which data is unavailable from JAMA or its member companies.)
  • The vehicle categories listed here have been established by a special working group on assisted-mobility vehicles on the basis of equipment standards, and thus differ from the vehicle categories established under Japan's Road Vehicles Act.
    *Small-sized vehicles here include small passenger cars and small commercial vehicles (van-type).
    *Other vehicle types include custom vehicles featuring stretcher-bearing equipment, revolving rear seats, and so on.
    *Vehicles carrying 11 or more passengers are classified as buses, while those carrying 10 or fewer passengers are classified as microbuses (small-sized vehicles). Again, these categories differ from those established under the Road Vehicles Act.

PDF[Data charts attached (PDF)]