A man uses his cell phone while riding a Segway November 15, 2008 as the glow from a fire is seen in the distance in Yorba Linda, California
A man uses his cell phone while riding a Segway November 15, 2008 as the glow from a fire is seen in the distance in Yorba Linda, California

The Segway is dead

Rolling vehicle was much-hyped and much-mocked when it first emerged nearly 20 years ago

Andrew Griffin
Tuesday 23 June 2020 17:01
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The Segway is dead, its makers have announced.

The company – which is also called Segway, and officially refers to the famous rolling vehicle as the "Segway PT" – said that it will "retire" the machine from next month.

"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," Segway said in a statement.

As well as meaning that no new versions of the vehicle will be created, 21 people will be laid off next month with twelve others being kept on for the next year.

The Segway was much-hyped – and sometimes mocked – as the future of personal transportation when it was first unveiled nearly 20 years ago.

While it proved popular with everyone from law enforcement to tourists heading around cities, the rolling vehicle was no longer a sustainable part of the business, its manufacturers said.

Part of the problem emerged because there was an "over-saturation of the market" for the Segway, it said. They had proven to be "extremely durable", with many still in use 10 years or more after they were made, leading to limited demand for new ones.

The Segway also failed to deliver on its hype in part because it proved to be less easy to use than smaller scooters, which have now taken off in cities across the world. A number of famous and deadly accidents – including the death of the company's owner – gave the vehicle a reputation for being somewhat unwieldy and hard to control, requiring a considerable learning curve to master its technology, which saw users lean forward and back to move around.

The company has also moved on to other focuses for the business, working on robotics and shared scooters, providing technology used in vehicles made by companies such as Lyft. The Segway accounted for less than 1.5 per cent of the company's revenue last year, it said.

"Given our decades-long history, we recognise that this decision may come as a disappointment to our strong and loyal following among private owners, who view the Segway as one of the more innovative creations of the early 21st century," Segway said in a statement confirming the end of the vehicle.

"We are grateful for the support and loyalty of our consumers and are proud of the impact our products have made on our customers’ lives and the reputation of the Segway brand."

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