April 28, 2005

Assisted-Mobility Vehicle Sales in Japan in Fiscal 2004:
First-Ever Decline Should Not Impact Long-Term Growth

Sales of assisted-mobility vehicles in Japan in fiscal 2004 (ending March 31, 2005) totalled 41,609 units, down 2.9% from fiscal 2003.

In recent years assisted-mobility vehicle sales have been on a steady rise, fuelled by a number of factors including the growing demand from senior citizens, the impact of the Accessible Transportation Law, and the enhancement of various transportation services. Demand has focused on low-floor buses and on elevator seat-equipped and wheelchair-accessible small- and mini-sized vehicles. Assisted-mobility demand in 2004 declined for the first time since 1992, when data for this vehicle category was first compiled.

However, with user interest in these vehicles expected to run high over the mid to long term, growing demand in this market segment is projected for the years ahead.

2004 Sales Data by Vehicle Type:

(1) Buses
A total of 4,616 assisted-mobility buses were sold in 2004, declining 12.3% from 2003. In that year sales in this category had surged, driven by replacement demand in response to the enforcement of national legislation limiting NOx and PM tailpipe emissions in Japan’s major metropolitan areas and of local ordinances limiting PM emissions in the greater Tokyo region. The downturn in 2004 was therefore anticipated, with sales finishing on a par with sales in 2002.

(2) Mini-Vehicles
Assisted-mobility mini-vehicle sales in 2004 totalled 9,491 units, down 3.0% from 2003. This category nevertheless continues to see more or less steady growth owing to competitive pricing and easy handling of the vehicles themselves, with wheelchair-accessible models proving the most popular. Sales of elevator and revolving seat-equipped models dropped in 2004, possibly owing to market delivery delays resulting from a shift to mass production for some new models.

(3) Small-Sized Vehicles
Sales of small assisted-mobility vehicles in 2004 totalled 27,502 units, down 1.1% from 2003. Although sales of elevator seat-equipped and wheelchair-accessible vehicles recorded solid growth, the demand for vehicles equipped with revolving seats declined significantly, owing to such factors as high sales levels in 2003 and, here again, market delivery delays linked to a shift to mass production for new models. This decline could also be partially attributable to the marketing of new passenger cars not outfitted with assisted-mobility functions but designed for easier boarding and exiting and offering other user-friendly features that have expanded consumer options.


  • 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 vehicle owners, for which data is unavailable from JAMA or its member companies.)
  • The assisted-mobility vehicle categories listed here have been established by JAMA on the basis of equipment standards, and therefore differ from the vehicle categories established under Japan’s Road Vehicles Act.Note that:
    1. Buses include microbuses.
    2. Small-sized vehicles here include small passenger cars and small, van-type commercial vehicles.
    3. Other vehicle types include custom vehicles featuring stretcher-bearing equipment, revolving rear seats, etc.

PDF[Data charts attached (PDF)]