Honda Motor Co. on Thursday revealed a plan to develop ultramini electric vehicles that it hopes will become the go-to mode of transportation for the elderly and other people instead of conventional smaller automobiles.
The one- or two-seater vehicles will run at low speeds, reducing the chance of causing traffic accidents. The announcement came on the heels of a recent series of major car accidents involving elderly drivers.
“We want to help advance mobility and living, and provide all people with the joy of broadened possibilities in their everyday lives,” Honda President Takahiro Hachigo said.
Among the vehicles being developed by Honda is a three-wheeled electric vehicle suitable for short- and middle-distance travel. Honda has yet to decide when to release the vehicles.
In the field of self-driving technology, Honda aims to develop an automobile that can be driven hands free on expressways, except for in emergency situations.
The vehicle will automatically maintain an appropriate position in traffic lanes and a proper distance from automobiles around it, and will be able to switch lanes without the driver holding the steering wheel.
In emergency situations, the vehicle will prompt the driver to take manual control of it using alarms, warnings on the monitor screen and a vibrating driver’s seatbelt.
Honda also plans to add a feature that will guide the vehicle to park automatically at the side of the road if the driver is detected to be falling asleep.