A collaborative effort between General Motors and Segway Inc. debuted Tuesday April 7th in New York: the new PUMA (Personal Urban Mobility and Accessibility vehicle). With the assistance of GM, Segway did something everyone thought was absolutely impossible: They made the Segway even DORKIER.
Ever since they debuted to great fanfare in 2001, Segways never captured the hearts of Americans like they were supposed to. Originally projected to sell forty thousand units the first year, it is now speculated that Segway probably hasn't sold 30 thousand units to date. So why didn't they catch on?
I'm guessing just because they look so dang stupid. A Segway passenger looks like Urkel riding a lawnmower. When I see one go by, it reminds me of the single wheel that was driven by caveman Thor in the Johnny Hart comic strip BC.
They haven't sold despite being purchased by several urban police forces, which use the devices as a way of humiliating the bad bicycle cops. They are also popular in many American cities, where you can participate in a Segway tour. Yes, for just seventy -five bucks, you can embarrass yourself in front of thousands of urban locals for three hours; it's the only way to make tourists look more out of place in the Big City.
Segways are also quite expensive. Who wants to spend seven grand to look like a dope? You can buy a lot of plaid golf pants and white shoes for that kind of money. Heck when I was in college, a big calculator, belt case, and matching pocket protector could be had for under five hundred bucks. Certainly a couple grand spent properly at Comic-Con could outfit several Dungeonmasters. You could get enough Star Trek and Star Wars costumes to keep you in wedgies for the entire four years of High School. In fact, you can get a dorky little Korean car for not much more than that, something with tinted windows to hide behind, something you can legally drive on the street.
Which was the motivation behind the PUMA: a street-legal version of a Segway. It is being touted as a solution to gridlock, pollution, Iraq, the energy crisis, and just about everything else the Left rails about; a glimpse into the future of transportation.