Car makers in Japan are desperately scrambling to reignite the fading interest of young people in owning a car – and making parking easier seems to be a big part of the effort.
According to a survey by Japanese newspaper Nihon Keizai Shimbun reported by The Australian, only 25% of Japanese men in their 20s want a car, down heavily from 48% in 2000.
It seems cars have become uncool in much of Japan. A survey of young people conducted there found that reliability of public transport, concerns about environmental impact and a preference for spending money on consumer technology like games consoles or iPods was undermining demand for the car.
In an attempt to rebuild flagging support for the auto, car-makers are now working on designs that attempt to make cars something more like a fashionable accessory. For example one Nissan model, the Round Box, has an interior that is designed to be like a sports bar and has a large central touchscreen display that all passengers in the car can use to watch TV, karaoke or look up the nearest non-moving sports bar.
Or, even better, the Pivo 2, which was designed in response to feedback from young women that driving in congested Japanese cities was just too hard. The Pivo has wheels that swivel sideways so it can move into tricky car parks without the need for parallel parking. It also has a “robotic agent,” a computer shaped like a human head that gives driving advice and directions in a deep, soothing voice.