The original Segway is dead

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The original Segway is dead
A segway tour stops in front of flags of the Nordic nations hanging from the Eisenhower Executive Office Building beside the White House in WashingtonThomson Reuters
  • The production of the Segway PT is coming to an end after the company announced it would sunset its namesake device and plans to lay off 21 employees.
  • Accounting for less than 1.5% of the company's profit, Segway PT's are no longer a financially attractive endeavor for the hardware maker.
  • Segway will continue to produce motorized scooters.

Say goodbye to the Segway PT.

The Segway company's original invention, a two-wheeled personal transport device popular among tourists and police, will be retired after almost two decades of production.

The company, founded in 1999 by Dean Kamen, announced it would stop making PT's as of July 15, the Associated Press reported Tuesday.

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

Segway was supposed to transform personal transportation but never caught on in a big way, and has made headlines for accidents and major crashes. Jim Heselden, a British millionaire who purchased the company in 2009, died on a Segway when he rode off a 30-foot cliff near his country estate less than a year after the acquisition.

Other high-profile accidents included George W. Bush falling off a Segway in 2003 and a cameraman colliding with Usain Bolt during his victory lap on the World Athletics Championships track.

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But the demise of the Segway PT model has less to do with safety concerns and more to do with profit.

Segway PT's never took hold among the general public — less than 1.5% of the company's revenue last year was generated by PT's.

"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," Cai added.

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Segway, which was acquired by Ninebot, a rivaling Chinese company, has over 100 employees but plans to lay off 21 workers with the discontinuation of the PT. But the company plans to keep its facility in Bedford, New Jersey.

While Segway PT's are at the end of the line, the company is still forging ahead in the realm of transportation, primarily with motorized scooters, which have become a popular transportation alternative.

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