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Segway puts crisis behind, moves on

After facing the worst crisis of confidence in its short lifespan when its owner died last September driving one of its vehicles, world leader in personal green transportation Segway said it has turned the corner and emerged stronger from the mishap.

autos Updated: May 08, 2011 23:30 IST
Sumant Banerji

After facing the worst crisis of confidence in its short lifespan when its owner died last September driving one of its vehicles, world leader in personal green transportation Segway said it has turned the corner and emerged stronger from the mishap.

The owner of the US-based firm Jimi Heselden died in an accident last year when he drove a Segway off a cliff in England. It may have been a low point for the company whose growth had been marred by recalls, but the firm said there has been no impact of it on sales anywhere in the world. In the past, Segway had recalled its vehicles twice in 2003 and 2006.

"What happened then was tragic but it was an accident and one that can happen on any motorised vehicle," said Alan Lee, vice-president. Asia Pacific, Segway Inc. "We did receive enquiries on safety issues but we have replied strongly and taken it as an opportunity to reiterate how safe our vehicles are. Our vehicles are safer than even a bicycle."

The firm that started making two-wheeled self-balancing vehicles, which are allowed to operate on pedestrian pathways in many parts of the world in 2002, but entered India only last year. So far, it has sold only 45 vehicles in the country with its price of over Rs 4 lakh acting as a big deterrent.

"We have had only 4-5 months of operations here so far," Lee said. "In the Asia-Pacific region, we see India as one of our big future markets alongwith China, Japan and Australia."

"We are trying to indigenise the vehicles and bring the cost down to as low as possible," said Ankur Bhatia, executive director, Bird Group, Segway's partner in India.

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