China-based Ninebot, which acquired Segway in 2015, will stop production of the PT, short for Personal Transporter, on July 15. Twenty-one employees will be laid off at their Bedford, New Hampshire plant. Fast Company first reported the news.
The Segway PT made a splash on December 3, 2001 when it was featured on Good Morning America. Inventor Dean Kamen said that a revolution in urban transport was looming and that automobiles would become obsolete. Kamen felt it was absurd to use 4,000 pound cars and trucks for short trips.
But Last year, the Segway PT accounted for just 1.5% of Ninebot’s revenue, according to Tony Ho, Segway’s vice president of global business development. With a price tag that starts At $ 6,000 and sometimes reaching $ 10,000, only police departments and tourist groups could afford it, he said.
“It was a great invention 20 years ago,” said Ho. “Now it seems a little dated.” Added that some police departments have switched to Ninebot’s cheapest electric scooters. Ninebot is also finalizing production of a three-wheeled Segway device that was designed for community policing.
Ho said that recent discussions about police department funding in the wake of George Floyd’s death did not affect Ninebot’s decision.
Before the Segway, Kamen made a name for himself as the inventor of medical devices like a portable insulin pump. The Segway PT project grew out of his work in the 1990s in a balanced wheelchair.
The Segway PT was ahead of its time, but not just in a good way. Price was a major barrier to adoption., entering at $ 4,950 when it was first launched. The batteries, which initially cost more than $ 1,000, were too expensive to make a more affordable version. For years, the company struggled to lower the price. Prices actually increased, probably due to inflation and new off-road features, according to Ho. Since 2001, 140,000 PTs have been sold, according to a Segway spokesperson.
The Segway PT found A place in the news headlines and Hollywood. President George W. Bush caught attention after one fell in 2003. On the same day, Segway employees had visited the Bush complex and taught other members of the Bush family how to ride. The Segway PT appeared in television shows and Hollywood movies, such as Mall Cop.
Instead of being cool and changing the world, the Segway developed a nerdy reputation.
As former Segway employee Matt Gelbwaks told CNN in a company profile in 2018, “There was a significant dumb factor.”
Kamen, who did not immediately respond to a request for comment, told CNN Business in 2018 that Segway is still the project that most people know him for.
“It doesn’t matter what else I do in life,” he said, “I’m the Segway boy.”