SAN FRANCISCO – The device that was supposed to revolutionize urban transportation seems unable to even hold on to a proper fan club.
The Segway Enthusiasts Group of America is disbanding because of inactivity and an absence of candidates for its board of directors, said the group's treasurer, Fred Kaplan.
SEG America plans to cease operations at the end of this month. Other small fan groups for the Segway still exist, but SEG America was one of the more active organizations, sending out regular e-mails on various Segway-related gatherings.
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Kaplan said his organization wasn't able to grow in part because it did not have access to e-mail lists of customers from Segway Inc., maker of the pricey self-balancing scooter.
"We had a list that was essentially three years old," he said.
Segway spokeswoman Carla Vallone confirmed the Bedford, N.H.-based company won't share the list, but has otherwise been supportive of SEG America.
"We're certainly disappointed to see this disband," she said. "We've supported them with financial sponsorship and also with some collaborative projects over the years."
Vallone insisted the group's demise was not an indicator of a lull in Segway sales, which she said have grown 50 percent annually since the scooter was introduced in 2002.
She said the company was considering forming a corporate-sponsored organization to take the place of SEG America.
When the Segway debuted, executives at the exclusive preview predicted that it would have no trouble selling and that entire U.S. cities would eventually be designed to take advantage of its capabilities — which can move people at up to 12 mph.
Still, the Segway can be too pricey for even for personal electronics-hungry American consumers. The base-model Segway PT i2 carries a suggested retail price of $5,145, and SEG America's Kaplan says replacement batteries cost about $1,600 per pair.