Once poised to be the future of travel, the Segway personal transporter (PT) sunsets on Wednesday.
The company announced last month that production will end on July 15. It attributed the decision to “over-saturation” in the market and falling sales. The vehicle accounted for less than 1.5% of the company's revenue last year, according to the statement.
“This decision was not made lightly,” said Judy Cai, Segway president, in the statement.
While the coronavirus pandemic did affect sales and production, that wasn’t the reason for the decision to halt production. The company is also discontinuing the Segway SE-3 Patroller and the Segway Robotics Mobility Platform (RMP) on the same date.
“Within its first decade, the Segway PT became a staple in security and law enforcement, viewed as an effective and efficient personal vehicle,” Cai said. “In the past decade, it has gained popularity worldwide by vacationers seeking fun mobile tours in major cities.”
Since its debut in 1999, the two-wheeled upright personal transporter became synonymous with accidents and punch lines about security guards and tourists despite ringing endorsements from tech giants like Steve Jobs and Jeff Bezos.
The Segway never caught on with the general population after almost 20 years on the market, with wide speculation that it was largely due to its prohibitive cost. The Segway came with a $5,000 price tag when it first came to market, as reported by the Associated Press. In today’s dollars, that’s nearly $7,700.
The mechanics of operating a Segway were also a challenge for riders who had to shift their bodies in pitch-perfect angles to prevent the machine from toppling over in either direction and potentially harming riders or others nearby.
Over the years, several high-profile Segway accidents occurred with former President George W. Bush and Olympian Usain Bolt. The most severe was when the millionaire businessman, Jimi Heselden, accidentally drove his Segway off a cliff in 2011 when reversing the machine. Heselden had led the British takeover over the Segway company in 2010.
The halt to production means that the company will slowly phase out its workforce based in Bedford, New Hampshire, starting with laying off 21 employees. Another 12 employees will stay on for two to 12 months, and five employees will remain on staff to work on Segway’s scooter, Discovery.
“Given our decades-long history, we recognize that this decision may come as a disappointment to our strong and loyal following among private owners,” Cai said, “who view the Segway as one of the more innovative creations of the early 21st century.”