Time to say so long to Segway. Not the entire company, but the two-wheeled "personal transporter" that garnered a lot of hype and a lot more mall cop-inspired jokes.
Ninebot, which bought Segway a few years ago, has announced it is halting production of the PT, which debuted in 2001 along with claims by its inventor that it would revolutionize personal transportation, with fleets of Segways taking over urban areas. While Segways have become part of city tours, they never won widespread acclaim.
It's an expected, but still sad, end for a product that had involved breakthroughs for some of the companies involved in making the many plastic components in it. GE Plastics (now Sabic) developed new materials for it. Injection molders Mack and Nypro were involved, along with smaller firms such as C&J Industries Inc.
And the whole product was such a secret that most of those suppliers were never told what, exactly, they were making. Until inventor Dean Kamen introduced the Segway live on "Good Morning America," companies like C&J were completely in the dark, only knowing they were molding a "wheel assembly to go on a device that uses a wheel," the then-Marketing Manager Mark Fuhrman told Joe Pryweller for a 2002 feature story in Plastics News. Design engineers had even wondered idly whether it was a miniature golf cart or even a personal hovercraft like that used by the Jetsons.
"We had gone for a long time on blind faith,'' Fuhrman said. "It was the most tightly controlled project I had ever been involved with."