January 29, 2005

STILL ROLLING:

Segway’s expansion on course (ERIK STETSON, 1/29/05, AP)

Europe is become a key new market for Segway LLC, with a pilot project underway to tie the self-balancing, two-wheeled devices into France’s mass-transportation system and sales picking up, particularly in Italy.

"It feels like we’re constantly on back order," said marketing vice president Klee Kleber. "We’re constantly rushing shipments over there."

Segway’s smallest model is its most popular overseas, a situation opposite to America’s, chief technology officer J. Douglas Field said. The smaller model’s tires measure 3 inches less in diameter than the larger model’s. It also weighs 13 pounds less.

Field said the measurements make the model easier to store and manage in confined areas, trade-offs for its slower speed and shorter range.

"There’s no question that the p series, which is a much smaller part of our market here, is really important in Europe," he said.

The pilot program, named the "Oxygen Network," is based in Lille, France, and managed by the Keolis Group, a transportation company with operations in seven European countries and Canada. It features a rental station that lets commuters rent Segways, electric bicycles and other vehicles, adding another layer to the city’s mass-transit system.

"There is a different motivation in Europe," Kleber said. "They want to get the cars off the road. They want to get pollution down."

He said European cities, which were designed before cars, also are more Segway friendly. Cars and related expenses such as gas and parking are more expensive there as well, he added.

"It’s a totally different transportation environment," he said. "You just don’t drive."

The privately held firm doesn’t release financial figures, but Kleber said the company’s American sales also had doubled in the fourth quarter, fueled by a growing dealership network and a series of promotions, including a free in-home trial offer. The company has about 80 dealerships nationwide, with a goal for roughly 100 overall, he said.

"We have a strategy," he said. "We’re still executing that strategy, and it’s working.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 29, 2005 6:16 PM
Comments

I've said it before & I'll say it again: The Segway is the most intensely dorkifying device in the entire history of human invention.

Posted by: Twn at January 29, 2005 6:20 PM

I didn't realize that they were still in business.

Posted by: David Cohen at January 29, 2005 7:13 PM
"Its a totally different transportation environment," he said. "You just dont drive."
Yeah, I noticed that last time I was in London, and my kids have reported the same about Paris, Rome, and Madrid too: the complete absense of cars on the city streets. It's quite eerie, actually!

:-)

Posted by: Kirk Parker at January 29, 2005 8:15 PM

Twn:

Ever seen an umbrella?

Posted by: oj at January 29, 2005 9:33 PM

I thought only Neville Chamberlain was dorkified by his umbrella.

Posted by: Ed Driscoll at January 29, 2005 10:05 PM

Unless you are an English nanny, an umbrella is not a transportation device.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at January 29, 2005 11:56 PM

The Europeans think standard Segways are too big?

Posted by: Mike Earl at January 30, 2005 12:01 AM
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