Self-driving cars planned by the automakers or enterprises like Google could one day counter slumping demand from younger customers by tapping the fastest-growing demographic in the world’s largest vehicle markets: the elderly.
With as many as 90% of traffic accidents caused by human error, a key benefit of the technology is boosting safety, executives from automakers including General Motors and Toyota said at an industry conference in Tokyo last week.
“Seniors are often regarded as the victims of traffic accidents, Moritaka Yoshida, managing officer and chief safety technology officer at Toyota, said this month as the company announced plans for automated-driving systems. ‘‘However, recently an increasing number of accidents are caused by senior drivers.’’
Japan, the world’s fastest-aging major economy and the third-largest car market, is at the forefront of the accident trend: of the 4,411 people who died on the road in the country last year, more than half, or 2,264, were 65 or older, according to data from the National Police Agency.
”Driver-assistance and autonomous-driving technologies will definitely help stimulate demand among the elderly by assuring them driving can be very safe,’’ said Zhou Lei, a senior manager and auto-industry consultant at Deloitte Tohmatsu Consulting Co. in Tokyo. ‘What’s happening in Japan will also occur in the U.S. and especially emerging countries like China, and the demand will be huge.’’
‘‘Autonomous driving could be very helpful to people who have physical challenges, or the elderly,” Mitsuhiko Yamashita, executive vice president of Nissan, said at last week’s World Congress on Intelligent Transport Systems in Tokyo.
Google, operator of the largest Web search engine, has been testing driverless cars in the U.S. Toyota, the world’s largest carmaker, said it will introduce systems in about two years that will enable cars to communicate with each other to avoid collisions. GM, the largest U.S. carmaker, is planning vehicles by 2020 that will be able to drive themselves on controlled-access highways. And Nissan Japan’s second-largest automaker, said last month it had obtained a permit to test autonomous cars on public roads in Japan. The Yokohama-based company plans to introduce a self-driving vehicle by 2020.
) - Monday, October 21st, 2013 - filed under News
. Image credit: .
Discuss: Driverless car demand seen boosted by the elderly