The Segway brand will stop producing the Segway PT (Personal Transporter) at its Bedford, New Hampshire plant on July 15th. This move will result in 25 people being laid off and it speaks to the long-term struggles of a product that was supposed to revolutionize transportation but never really captured the public imagination.
Inventor Dean Kamen launched the Segway PT in December 2001 and promised that it would revolutionize city transport. It was supposed to cover the middle ground between walking and driving in a way that bikes couldn’t. It just did not sell enough. Just 140,000 units in nearly 20 years. It ultimately found the most use among security teams and tourists. Kamen sold the company in 2009, and Chinese mobility firm Ninebot bought it in 2015.
Company executives did acknowledge that the concept had its issues. VP Tony Ho said that the classic Segway design was still seen as “very novel” and required a learning curve that kick scooters and other forms of transportation never really did. Segway president Judie Cai has said that the PT’s design may have been too durable for its own good. This meant that a customer might not have to replace their transporter for a long time.
Still, it ushered in electric urban mobility, like e-scooter services and hoverboards. So it has made a lasting impression.