7-Elevens to use mini-cars for Japan home deliveries

The Japanese operator of 7-Eleven stores outlined Monday its new home delivery service using Toyota electric cars, aimed at helping the country's ageing population to do their grocery shopping.

"Given the ageing of the Japanese population and the disappearance of smaller, local shops, there are increasing numbers of people who struggle with their daily shopping," the operator said.

The number of people in Japan aged 65 or over stood at 29.75 million as of October 1 last year, or 23.3 percent, an all-time high and one of the highest proportions of elderly people in the world.

In August and September the stores will begin by using 200 single-seater COMS electric cars, a model manufactured by Toyota Auto Body, a subsidiary of the Japanese giant, whose acronym means "short, smooth rides into town".

The mini-car, which costs 668,000 yen ($8,370) and requires a driving licence, has a six-hour charge and features a range of around 50 kilometres and a maximum speed of 60 kilometres per hour.

Seven & i Holdings operates supermarkets, department stores and 7-Eleven convenience stores in Japan and the United States. There are more than 13,500 7-Elevens in Japan, often open 24 hours.

The proportion of people aged 65 or over in Japan will reach nearly 40 percent of the country's population in 2060, according to a government report in June.

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