Segway, who boldly claimed that its two-wheeled personal transporter would revolutionize the way people move, is ending production of its namesake vehicle.
The Segway PT, popular with tourists and police but perhaps best known for its high-profile accidents, will be withdrawn on July 15, the company said in a statement.
“In its first decade, the Segway PT became a staple in safety and law enforcement, seen as an effective and efficient personal vehicle,” said Judy Cai, the president of Segway, in a statement, noting that in the last decade it has gained popularity with tourists in the main cities of North America, Europe, Asia, South America and the Middle East.
But the Segway, which carries a standing passenger on a wide platform, accounted for less than 1.5% of the company’s revenue last year. The company said 21 employees will be laid off, another 12 employees will remain in office for two months to one year, and five will remain at the Bedford, New Hampshire facility.
The transportation revolution that inventor Dean Kamen envisioned when he founded the company in 1999 never took off. The original Segway price of around $ 5,000 was an obstacle for many customers. It was also a challenge to drive because the driver had to be balanced at a specific angle for the vehicle to move forward. If the rider’s weight were to shift too much in either direction, it could easily spin out of control and knock the rider off. They were banned in some cities because users could easily lose control if they were not properly balanced.
“What did you think the market was when they built this, when they designed it?” Asked Maryann Keller, director of Maryann Keller & Associates. “My impression was that they were talking about this as personal mobility. How could you think that something so big and expensive would be personal mobility?
Ten months after buying the company in 2009, self-made British millionaire Jim Heselden died after the Segway he was riding on fell off a 30-foot cliff not far from his country house in north London. He was 62 years old.
In 2003, George W. Bush avoided injuries after falling off a Segway at his parents’ summer home in Kennebunkport, Maine.
A cameraman traveling on a Segway ran over Usain Bolt in 2015 when the Jamaican sprinter made a victory lap after winning a 200-meter race in Beijing. Bolt was not injured and then joked about the incident.
In 2017, Segway got into the scooter business, just as light, inexpensive, and easy-to-drive vehicles took to urban streets. Segway’s foray into that industry may have been a sign that the days of its original PT were numbered.
“It was probably overdone before it was released, and when it was released, it was like, this is not going to work on the sidewalks of the city,” Keller said.