80 year old Horie Miho is volunteering for human crash tests. He's trialing Daihatsu's pint-sized Tonto with automatic emergency brakes and error detecting pedals, high tech mini cars like these were marketed towards young Japanese families. Instead they've gained a huge following in a very different market. Pensioners like Miho, who are growing wary of traditional autos.
>> If you continue to drive a car at our age, you will bound to get into some sort of trouble.>> It's what's made Honda's own N-Box Japan's bestselling passenger car. Roughly half the owners of the latest model are over the age of 50. Reuters' Naomi Tajitsu has been speaking to many car makers.
They say they're beginning to realize their older customer base.>> Automakers are starting to come around, and they're starting to acknowledged that it's elderly people that are buying these cars. But they've become very popular amongst elderly people because they're small, they're easy to drive, and they're easy to maneuver around small narrow streets in the country.
>> All of the country's major auto makers sell mani cars almost exclusively in Japan and demand is growing sharply. Japan is home to one of the world's most rapidly aging populations and the number of driving license holders aged over 60 is two times the number of those who are under 30.
And that figure is starting to alarm officials. Not least because older drivers were involved in 55% of the country's accidents last year. The government's response was to require drivers over 75 to renew their license at driving schools like these. During the cognitive testing this year, around 60,000 would-be drivers were flagged as potentially suffering from dementia.
The hope is driverless cars will one day help keep the elderly mobile for longer. And until that future arrives, small high tech cars are helping to bridge the gap.