Segway to end production of iconic two-wheel vehicle after series of high-profile crashes

By Rebecca Speare-Cole
A young woman rides a segway scooter near the beach in Barcelona (Picture: AFP via Getty Images)

Segway is ending production of its iconic two-wheeled transporter, which it claimed would revolutionise the way people get around.

The Segway PT was popular with tourists and police officers but its popularity was overshadowed by a series of high-profile crashes.

It will be retired on July 15, the company said in a statement.

Segway president Judy Cai said: “Within its first decade, the Segway PT became a staple in security and law enforcement, viewed as an effective and efficient personal vehicle."

A security guard wearing a mask and riding a Segway patrols inside Penn Square Mall in Oklahoma City. (AP)

She noted that in the past decade it gained popularity with holidaymakers in major cities in 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 per cent of the company’s revenue last year.

The company said 21 employees will be laid off, another 12 employees will stay on for two months to a year and five will remain at the Bedford, New Hampshire facility.

“This decision was not made lightly, and while the current global pandemic did impact sales and production, it was not a deciding factor in our decision,” Ms Cai said.

Police officers patrolling on a Segway at the Avenue Louise shopping neighbourhood in Brussels (BELGA MAG/AFP via Getty Images)

The transportation revolution that inventor Dean Kamen envisioned when he founded the company in 1999 never took off.

The Segway’s original price tag of around 5,000 US dollars was a hurdle for many customers. It also was challenging to ride because the rider had to be balanced at a specific angle for the vehicle to move forward.

If the rider’s weight shifted too much in any direction, it could easily spin out of control and throw the rider off. They were banned in some cities because users could easily lose control if they were not balanced properly.

People on a Segway tour by Buffalo Bayou on August 25, 2018 in Houston, Texa (Getty Images)

Ten months after buying the company in 2009, British self-made millionaire Jim Heselden died after the Segway he was riding careened off a 30-foot cliff not far from his country estate north of London. He was 62 years old.

In 2003, President George W Bush avoided injury after tumbling off a Segway at his parents’ summer home in Kennebunkport, Maine.

A cameraman riding a Segway ran over Usain Bolt in 2015 as the Jamaican sprinter did a victory lap after winning a 200-metre race in Beijing.

Bolt was not injured and later joked about the incident.

In 2017, Segway got into the scooter business, just as the light, inexpensive and easy-to-ride two-wheelers took over urban streets. It may have been a sign that the Segway PT’s days were numbered.

“It was probably over-hyped before it was launched, and when it was launched, it was like, this is not going to work on city sidewalks,” Ms Keller said.