There’s no mistaking a Segway. The iconic personal transportation device, which first debuted in 2001, is, undoubtedly, one of the most recognized devices ever. We’ve seen them on TV, movies, and on city tours.
But despite its popularity, this year, the Segway PT and the three-wheeled variant are officially coming to an end. Chinese company, Ninebot, who bought the company from inventor Dean Kamen in 2009, will no longer be producing the Segway. Their manufacturing company in Bedford, New Hampshire, will stop production starting July 15th and will be letting go of 21 employees as a result.
Kamen initially had very high hopes for the Segway when he first introduced it in 2001. He meant for the device to be the future of modern transport, effectively replacing cars and other forms of transportation. Unfortunately, it didn’t take off as he had planned. Selling only about 140,000 units since 2001, Segway sales only made up a mere 1.5% of Ninebot’s revenue.
It may well be Segway’s price tag that caused its downfall. Clocking in at just under $5000 for one unit, the cost of entry was high and only a handful of people could afford it. Over the years, it, sadly, didn’t get any cheaper, particularly because of inflation and the addition of more features according to the president of Ninebot, Tony Ho.
“It was a great invention 20 years ago,” said Ho. “Now it seems a bit outdated.”
Segway’s sales mostly came from tourist groups and corporate and government accounts like the police department. But many are already transitioning to motorized kickscooters which are not only more affordable but easier to learn.
But despite the end of the Segway, Kamen had created an iconic piece of technology that won’t be easily forgotten. “No matter what else I do in life,” he said, “I’m the Segway guy.”