Multifaceted Policy Mix for Community-Level Implementation of Electric Automated Driving Vehicles -Case Studies of the Municipality in Very Aging Suburbs of Metropolis in Japan

Type de publication:

Conference Paper


Gerpisa colloquium, Bordeaux (2024)


autonomous mobility service, Japan, policy mix, social welfare, suburbs



For the sustainability of our society, the sustainability of transportation infrastructure is important from environmental, social, and economic aspects. Recently, innovations in the transportation and mobility fields are progressing rapidly, leading the introduction of new technologies such as self-driving cars and of new business models based on Information and Communication Technology. The backgrounds of this transformation are social issues like, not only environmental issues but also, labour shortages due to a decreasing population and securing the mobility of the elderly in a super-aging society.
In this paper, we comparatively analyse three example of sustainable mobility service in suburbs. In these areas, transportation services are provided by Green Slow Mobility (GSM), a smaller-scale electric bus or electric golf cart, which is one of the features of Japanese autonomous driving.

Policy mix, defined as the combined set of interacting policy instruments of a country addressing R&D and innovation (de Heide, 2011), is critical for the innovation and the recent studies indicate that feedback mechanism that manifest in concrete case is less clear-cut (Edmondson et al., 2019) and the mechanism need to consider multi-level and multi-actor (Flanagan et al., 2011): concrete case studies from bottom-up perspective involving different types of stakeholders is awaited. Our research deals with the cases where a city also plays a role as an entrepreneurial agent (Quinn & Courtney, 2016) for the implementation of autonomous driving car. Here, added values such as welfare value become nonnegligible for public entities. Our research focuses on the cases of bottom-up projects where public and private stakeholders are involved mobilising different types of national level policies for the promotion of autonomous driving car.


Our research questions are:

・What kind of subsidies and other schemes are being used by local government, which is the demand side, to implement autonomous driving service and how?

・What are the issues that need to be addressed to ensure the sustainability of autonomous driving service?

(i.e., what policy areas should be considered for further autonomous vehicle deployment?)


To analyse each case in chronological order, we conducted document analysis of the governmental documents and interviews with public entities, residents, and private companies. We selected the cases that are in continuous operation or are undergoing long-term demonstration experiments. NankaDai in Kawachinagano City, IshioDai in Kasugai City and Sakai Town are selected as the cases to be studies. Those cases are good examples of practices of bricolage and path-making (Garud & Karnøe, 2001).


1. (NankaDai) "Kurukuru service” uses GSM vehicles controlled automatically using electromagnetic induction wires embedded in the road on a regular, fixed route, operated by resident volunteers who mainly older people.
In August 2018, the project was adopted by the Cabinet Office for a project to promote the realization of smart cities and started an automated driving project, and in March 2022, through the Cabinet Office's Digital Implementation, the local area will be able to utilize more digital technology. The project was adopted for a project to solve the problems facing the region and realize a spiritually rich lifestyle where no one is left behind and all people can enjoy the benefits of digitalization, and the autonomous driving route was extended.
The service is operated by residents on a volunteer basis, with residents providing the labour. In addition, the city is paying for the vehicles and maintenance costs to introduce the service.

2. (IshioDai) "Odekake Service" is an on-demand automatic driving service using GSM, where on-demand autonomous driving vehicles operate using GPS and radar, with AI reservation system and route planning. The NPO which is organised by mainly elderly residents operate the service.
August 2018 The project was selected by the Cabinet Office as a project to promote the realization of a smart city, and money was used for the construction of the garage in this project. The city paid for the purchase of the vehicles, and the university paid for the technology, primarily as a research expense. Residents volunteered to operate the system and were compensated for their services.

3. (Sakaimachi) GSM-based automated service using GPS and radar is operated on a fixed route at a fixed time. The town pays for the vehicle and operation costs, but funding comes from government subsidies as well as hometown tax payments and other programs. As for government subsidies, the town received a grant in 2016 from the Cabinet Office for subsidies to support voluntary and proactive projects by local governments that are leading the way, and in 2021 it was selected for the "Demonstration Experiment Project Using Big Data" by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism. In introducing the system, the mayor decided to introduce it as a means of transportation for all kinds of people, including the elderly, based on the concept of an elevator of town, and personally approached a company offering automated driving services, which was approved by the council. Fares are provided free of charge.

Practical implications

In our cases, subsidies to incorporate advanced technologies and subsidies to revitalize local communities were utilized. In addition, considering the significance from the viewpoint of social welfare in sustaining the operation is important, and developing autonomous driving as part of such measures is possible.
These means of transportation are currently targeted at people who can easily walk on their own, and measures to improve not only the vehicles but also the hardware could be considered, such as providing space inside the vehicles for people with baby strollers or in wheelchairs, and eliminating steps when getting on and off the vehicles. Hardware policy measures can be developed to eliminate steps when getting on and off the train.

Theoretical implications

About the feedback mechanism of policy mix, some ministries not involved in the initial plan of the policy mix also need to be informed about the necessity to be involved in the future policy mix or not such as the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare. More such research that seeks the concrete methods to efficiently involve “out-of-box” stakeholders is necessary.

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