Segway Offers Financing to Push Sales

For most, the price of a Segway is too expensive to afford up front. Thus, the Bedford, N.H.-based company has teamed with General Electric to offer a financing program to buffer the "sticker shock" of buying the high-end scooter.

Instead of paying the full $4,000 to $5,000 cost of the scooter at the time of purchase, the amount could be spread out into monthly payments. For the high-end Segway HT i180 model, this would mean monthly payments could be as low as $125 per month.

The option would become available starting on Thursday from any authorized Segway dealer. "This relationship will make Segway products more accessible to our customers at a time when people are eager to explore more energy-efficient modes of transportation," Segway vice president of sales Jason Barton said.

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With gas prices continuing to increase, the company is hoping to cash in by making the HT more affordable. Segway says that the company's growth rate is nearly 50 percent due to its unique value proposition. Still, the number of scooters sold since 2002 only numbers in the tens of thousands.

Segway acknowledges this is not what the company had envisioned -- it thought the HT would catch on as a popular alternative method of transportation in urban areas. However, the high up-front price has kept many away.

The scooters have seen some limited use as rental units much like bicycles and surreys do in beachfront communities. Still, high prices for rental rates make such an option fairly unaffordable for most.

Barton argues that this should change through the GE relationship. "GE gives customers a convenient way to purchase a new Segway HT for manageable monthly payments, while owning a Segway HT gives them the opportunity to save money by avoiding the expense of gas, insurance and traditional maintenance," he said.

Although 60 percent of the company's sales are to consumers, Segway also has a lucrative government and business strategy. Several police forces including the city of Chicago use the scooters in patrols.

Each Segway HT can operate up to 24 miles on a single battery charge, and is pollution free.

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