October 29, 2009

Assisted-Mobility Vehicle Sales in Japan
for First Half of Fiscal 2009 (April-September)

Sales of assisted-mobility vehicles in Japan during the first half of fiscal 2009 (April through September) totalled 14,950 units, down 14.7% from the same period in the previous year, for the first such decline in two years.

The needs of Japan’s aging population and social welfare programs have contributed to a growing interest nationwide in assisted-mobility vehicles. Today’s lagging sales in this market segment are believed to reflect the impact of decreased disposable income resulting from the current economic slump.

Looking ahead, this negative trend is expected to ease in view of the fact that the eco-friendly vehicles which are eligible for purchasing incentives (namely, tax reductions and subsidies) also include, as of September this year, assisted-mobility vehicles.

April-September Sales Data by Vehicle Category

1. Standard & Small-Size Vehicles—9,487 units (down 17.6% from first half of fiscal 2008)
Demand remained firm for wheelchair-accessible models, linked to the need for convenient shuttle services for nursing-care facilities and other operations ministering to Japan’s elderly population. On the other hand, demand for models equipped with revolving or elevator seats saw a broad decline, attributable in part to the relatively high percentage of individual private owners in that subcategory. Sales in this category overall, compared to sales in the same period of the previous year, declined for the first time in two years (i.e., since the first half of 2007).

2. Mini-Vehicles—3,949 units (up 2.1% from first half of fiscal 2008)
In addition to the continuing firm demand for wheelchair-accessible models, this category also saw a shift to strong demand for models with revolving or elevator seats. The resulting sales performance marked growth for this category for the second straight first half-year.

3. Buses—1,514 units (down 29.6% from first half of fiscal 2008)
As a result of the economic downturn beginning in autumn 2008, this category saw a decline in replacement demand for large transit buses for use in public transport. Sales consequently finished far below the level recorded in the same period of the previous year.


  1. The figures provided here and in the accompanying charts are the combined totals of JAMA member manufacturers’ unit sales; they do not include vehicles customized post-purchase. (For example, although in the accompanying “Summary” chart the total first-half fiscal 2009 sales figure for vehicles equipped with drive-assist systems—including standard, small-size and mini-vehicles—is 448, 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 Vehicle Act. The main differences are that “Standard & Small-Size Vehicles” includes standard and small passenger cars and van-type commercial vehicles, and that “Buses” includes minibuses. Note also that from 2007 on, “Other” in the accompanying “Summary” chart no longer includes vehicles equipped with revolving seats or drive-assist systems. Those vehicles have been reclassified into the “Elevator/Revolving seats” and “Drive-assist system” subcategories, respectively.

[Data charts attached (PDF)]