April 30, 2009

Assisted-Mobility Vehicle Sales in Japan in Fiscal 2008:
A Small Decline in Sales from Previous Year in All Three Categories

Sales of assisted-mobility vehicles in Japan during fiscal year 2008 (ending March 31, 2009) totalled 35,022 units, a dip of 4.9% from the previous year.

The needs of Japan’s aging population and social welfare programs have helped to underscore the usefulness and convenience of assisted-mobility vehicles, and automakers have responded to users’ various requirements with increasingly diversified product development. The success of their efforts is attested to by the essentially stable demand in this segment, against a backdrop of stagnant demand in the domestic auto market overall.

2008 Sales Data by Vehicle Category

1. Small-Size Vehicles—22,184 units (down 4.7% from fiscal 2007)
Boosted by new model launches, sales in this category increased during the first half of the year, but dropped sharply in the latter half as a consequence of the global economic downturn. The bottom line was a decrease in sales in this category for the third consecutive year (from fiscal 2006).

2. Mini-Vehicles—8,176 units (down 2.1% from fiscal 2007)
Despite a rise in demand for wheelchair-accessible models in this category, sales of models with revolving or elevator seats fell, with the result that overall sales of assisted-mobility mini-vehicles declined for the fifth straight year (from fiscal 2004).

3. Buses—4,662 units (down 10.2% from fiscal 2007)
A key factor in the drop from the previous year in this category was the fact that replacement demand for assisted mobility-type route buses for use in public transport has largely run its course. In the final tally, bus sales posted a year-on-year decline for the third successive year (from fiscal 2006).


  1. The figures provided here and in the accompanying charts are the combined totals of JAMA member manufacturers’ unit sales; they include vehicles customized by JAMA members at the time of sale, but do not include vehicles customized post-purchase. (For example, although in the accompanying “Summary” chart the total 2008 figure for vehicles equipped with drive-assist systems is 383, total annual demand for vehicles so equipped is estimated at roughly 5,000.)
  2. The three 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. The main differences are that “small-size vehicles” includes small passenger cars as well as small van-type commercial vehicles, and that “buses” includes minibuses. Note also that from 2007 on, “Other” in the accompanying “Summary” chart includes stretcher-bearing vehicles, customized vehicles, etc., but no longer includes vehicles with revolving rear seats or with customized hand-control systems, which have been reclassified into the “Elevator/Revolving seats” and “Drive-assist system” subcategories, respectively.

PDF[Data charts attached (PDF)]