Japanese convenience store operator FamilyMart will establish lending bases for electric scooters at more than 600 stores.
With the tailwind from a recent easing of regulations, e-scooters are being accepted as eco-friendly transportation, and the spread of bases in convenience stores is likely to broaden their use.
Under current Japanese law, e-scooters are categorized as "motorized bicycles" and cannot be ridden on public roads without a driver's license and helmet.
However, Japan's parliament enacted a law this week that will allow within two years those aged 16 and up to drive e-scooters without a license. Wearing helmets will be regarded as an individual's responsibility but will not be required.
FamilyMart will invest in Luup, a Japanese e-scooter sharing startup that lets users borrow and return Luup's scooters at FamilyMart stores. This will be its largest investment in Luup, though the amount has not been clarified.
The bases will first be installed at stores in Tokyo and three other major cities in parking lots or in front of store buildings. FamilyMart plans to gradually expand the service nationwide. A portion of installation fees will be added to each store's income.
The company may also tie Luup's booking app to FamilyMart's own app and show targeted ads based on user profiles.
Electric scooters are attracting attention as an environmentally friendly and convenient means of transportation. Using them as an alternative to autos is also expected to help alleviate traffic congestion and reduce carbon emissions.