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Auto Industry Must Change to Target Senior Buyers

3 March 2023

The elderly group is the future of the auto industry 

- The global aging population is on the rise, and the developing world is aging rapidly; this shift has significant implications for the automotive industry.

- Car brands are reinventing mobility with a focus on safety and convenience to target senior buyers. 

By 2023, 21% of the population in developed countries will be aged over 65 years, due to low birth rate and rapid population aging. Much of this growth is contributed by baby boomers, who are expected to be the largest segment of consumers. Cars of the future must meet the needs of the elderly, with health and safety features as a top priority. 

John Lenneman, senior principal research scientist of the ‘My Car the Doctor’, a collaborative effort between Toyota's Collaborative Safety Research Center and University of Nebraska Medical Center said that vehicle with symptoms detector is ‘not far-fetched at all’. Although the technology cannot diagnose symptoms, but it can collect health data and abnormalities through sensors and camera while driving. These data are sent to health wearables and devices of the elderly, family and doctors to warn signs of symptoms. Medical monitoring innovations in vehicles are expected to become mainstream and significant as the world’s population is aging fast.

Lenneman said in Toyota’s press release that “We know from the medical community that detecting and diagnosing diseases early improves patient health and treatment. We also know from research that signs or symptoms of many diseases might show up in the driver’s seat long before they show up in a lab test or at the doctor’s office.”

This applies especially in Alzheimer disease where symptoms such as erratic use of pedal, inconsistent speed control and inaccurate navigation, can manifest behind the wheel.

Another notable case study is Ford’s architecture working with CAD model to simulate how people’s behavior in entering and exiting vehicles. This model also determines the optimal height-to-ground distance and step-over width for future vehicles. Older drivers can benefit from these optimal changes.

According to the research, Ford have already replaced gear shifters in its Escape and Bronco Sport cars to rotary dials for ease of use. Moreover, Ford’s vehicle engineering experience development department are looking for ways to enhance driving experience for senior drivers. This could include an improved location for steering wheel, cloud-based voice activation, larger display with larger buttons and less info with more space. 

General Motors are also looking for ways to increase driving security for older drivers such as facial recognition for starting engine. Meanwhile, Audi have already implemented its assist features ahead of everyone. This includes matrix LED headlights for the Audi A8 in 2013 and digital matrix LED headlights in 2019. The advance headlight systems can control light in front of the car and allow light to extend into the next lane during lane change. Although this innovation is widely beneficial, it is more appealing for senior buyers, especially those with night vision issues.

Follow future ME Blog articles to get the latest updates on the automotive industry, from global affairs to in-depth trend analysis.

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