Japan to start embracing the Segway?


There are some exceptions, but usually any vehicle that comes from America has a hard time in Japan. Just ask Ford or General Motors. Normally, the Japanese just love their own brands. But now Segway’s Japanese subsidiary [JP] achieved an agreement with the city of Yokohama, which might pave the way for a lot more Segways in the world’s second biggest economy.

Segway Japan and the city of Yokohama will jointly try to convince the Japanese government to allow people to use Segways on designated public roads in the city. With a population of 3.6 million, Yokohama is Japan’s second biggest city.

The move is highly unusual, but can explained by Yokohama’s efforts to boost the local economy and promote the use of environmentally friendly vehicles in the city. Japan’s road traffic law currently proscribes the use of Segways or Segway-like vehicles (such as Toyota’s Winglet). However, Segway has sold about 1,000 vehicles so far in Japan, where they are used in exhibition centers and similar public facilities.

The average price for a Segway in Japan is $10,000 (the picture above shows former Prime Minister Koizumi riding one, which was given to him as a present in 2005 by then president Bush).