Archive for April, 2016

Chelsea Sexton leading the charge on a Segway miniPRO

[UPDATED on 25 April 2016]

‘Leading the Charge’ is New Zealand’s annual Cape Reinga-to-Bluff tour by zero-emission vehicles. This year, visiting US advocate and advisor on electric cars Chelsea Sexton joined the grand adventure.

Chelsea is best-known for her role in the documentary Who Killed the Electric Car? (2006). In addition to being one of the key experts featured in that film, she was also a Consulting Producer on the follow-up movie Revenge of the Electric Car (2011).

While passing through Auckland she leapt at the opportunity to have her first ride on the brand new Segway miniPRO. Steve and Dee West from Charge Net – NZ’s electric vehicle fast charging network – had just purchased one of the first Segway miniPROs to arrive in New Zealand. Moments later Chelsea jumped on, and was soon gracefully swooning around the carpark. We’re not sure if Chelsea has gotten off and given it back to them yet!

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Chelsea Sexton on Steve West’s Segway miniPRO outside Charge Net’s Auckland office, next to his first Tesla Model S (also the very first to be imported into New Zealand).

Chelsea has given a number of great interviews during her time in New Zealand, including this one with Stuff’s Motoring section, and this one with Otago Daily Times.

Steve and Dee have taken the miniPRO with them on the Leading the Charge tour, which finishes up in Bluff today (follow progress at the Leading The Charge Facebook page). This last stop on the national tour was also an opportunity to open the world’s southern-most public EV charging station. As reported in the Otago Daily Times:

Invercargill’s first public electric vehicle (EV) charging station opened for business this week and is expected to be the first of many in the region.

The station, in Esk St, next to the Scottish Hall, has a DC rapid charge system which provides an 80% charge in 10 to 25 minutes.

It is a joint venture between the Invercargill-based electricity network management company PowerNet and charge.net.nz, which plans to install 150 user-pays stations throughout New Zealand.

Charge.net.nz managing director Steve West completed opening honours with Invercargill MP Sarah Dowie in front of about 50 invited guests and onlookers.

He said the station was not only the southernmost in New Zealand but in the world, and was the 18th the company had opened so far.

chargenetSteve says he’s been using his miniPRO get around when he reaches his destinations, and is loving it. Because the miniPRO’s KneeSteer unclips in a second, it is easy to place on the back seat or stow in the boot of a car – even if the car is full. Arrive near your destination, park wherever you like, lift it out (just 12kg), jump on and go!

Comfortable, easy and safe to ride, the Segway miniPRO is the ‘last mile’ solution many people have been waiting for.

LEADING THE CHARGE TOUR DATES

Auckland, MOTAT, April 9

Thames, April 10

Hamilton, Waikato University, April 11

Rotorua, April 12

Taupo, April 13

Palmerston North, April 13-14

Levin, Otaki, Southward Car Museum, April 14

Wellington, April 15-17

Christchurch, April 19

Timaru, Waimate and Oamaru, April 20

Dunedin and Invercargill, April 21

Bluff, April 22

 

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NZ’s first Segway miniPRO owner

Earlier this week we hand-delivered the first Segway miniPRO purchased by a New Zealander. Here is a photo of him gliding around the internal courtyard at this workplace on K’Rd, Auckland.
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When he tried one of our demo models earlier this year he wasn’t sure how well the Segway miniPRO would handle typical urban terrain. So to test it, he took it to the very steepest streets he could find in Auckland’s CBD.

City Road and Liverpool Street (officially the steepest in Auckland) can be found squeezed between the top of Queen Street and Symonds Street. For the Segway miniPRO, City Road proved easy to tackle – both up and down.

Now for Liverpool Street: riding down was quite the thrill! Yet the Segway miniPRO was always able to be braked to a full stop throughout the downward journey. There was never any risk of ‘runaway.’

Amazingly, the Segway miniPRO was also able to carry the rider (~60kg) up Liverpool Street from bottom to top – albeit quite slowly (but still faster than a person can walk up this very, very steep street). For his 80kg companion on another Segway miniPRO there was a 5m distance where the grade became so steep that the machine reached stalling point and dismounting was required during this short stretch. The rider simply stepped off, raised the telescopic walking handle, and walked himself and the miniPRO for a short distance until the grade levelled off slightly. According to an article in NZ Herald, Auckland City Council records this street as having  10.2 degree grade (or 18%), however we measured 13 degrees at the steepest point (using the Handilevel App on an iPhone 6S).

As an interesting point of comparison, a full-sized Segway Personal Transporter (i2 model) is not only able climb only Liverpool Street with ease, but also climb all the way to the top of Baldwin Street (the steepest urban street in the world, according to the Guinness Book of Records).

 

Auckland's Liverpool Street. The red arrow in the third photograph indicates just how steep this street is.

Auckland’s Liverpool Street. The red arrow in the third photograph indicates just how steep this street is.

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Segway miniPROs stacked up and ready to go out to Kiwi customers

New Zealand is the first country in the Southern Hemisphere to receive the new Ninebot by Segway miniPRO. This incredible new product is available to buy right now for $2,295 (including GST and overnight delivery). Both black and white colour choices are in stock.

Kiwis can be amongst the first in the world to own a Segway miniPRO, so get yours today.

miniPRO stack

We’ve been field-testing a pair of Segway miniPROs since December 2015, and have taken them just about everywhere you can imagine.

In upcoming articles we’ll show you photos of the miniPRO at the top of Mount Maunganui, at the bottom of the South Island, having a go at the world’s steepest street (Baldwin Street in Dunedin), reaching the top of Auckland’s One Tree Hill (that inspired Bono to write the U2 song of the same name) and Mount Eden volcanos, and going places a bit more rough and tumble than the manufacturer probably intended for it to be ridden. But hey, this is New Zealand and thats just the kind of stuff we do, right?

Every Segway miniPRO is covered by a comprehensive 12 month warranty. Our workshop is already well-stocked with replacement parts, as well as accessories of every colour.

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Major US scooter maker Razor and “Swagway” hit by Segway lawsuits

Major US scooter maker Razor and hoverboard maker ‘Swagway’ are the latest companies to find themselves on the receiving end of lawsuits filed by Segway, Inc and DEKA Partnership, according to Reuters.

Foolishly named Swagway is a maker of self-balancing hoverboards, and was hit by a trademark claim in January 2016. The name ‘Swagway’ bears an obvious and confusing similarity to the ‘Segway’ trademark. Did Swagway honestly think it could get away with trading under that name for long?

It gets worse for Swagway. In a big win for Segway, last month the US International Trade Commission determined that all China-built hoverboards infringe Segway patents and has banned all imports of hoverboards into USA.

For Razor, Segway’s claim of patent infringement is the next twist in a story that has already taken a series of extraordinary turns over the past few months.

Last year Razor licensed a patent relating to hoverboards from US company Inventist, who’s owner Shane Chen brought to market the first commercial hoverboard (“Hovertrax”). Chen had obtained a patent for a “Two-Wheel, Self-Balancing Vehicle With Independently Movable Foot Placement Sections.” Several months earlier Inventist had instigated legal action against another hoverboard company called IO Hawk. Inventist had also just won a patent claim in China against one of the many makers of a Solowheel copy (somewhat ironically, this win was against Ninebot – the company that would shortly afterwards go on to form a strategic combination with Segway, Inc).

Razor promptly used its license to sue Swagway for patent infringement (in early December 2015). Perhaps this was the company’s first strike towards the goal of clearing out the marketplace, in a quest to eventually dominate this rapidly emerging variant within the wider scooter segment. Razor is certainly no stranger to such action, having sued some 20 makers of knock-off children’s kick-scooters a decade earlier.

However, by then Segway had already filed claim against Inventist for infringing its patents in its Hovertrax and Solowheel products (we covered this in an earlier article).

Now, Segway has filed claim for patent infringement against Razor too, releasing a public statement to media, saying:

“In September, we filed a lawsuit against Inventist for patent infringement. This latest filing is a continuation of our commitment to vigorously protect our brand and products,” said Brian Buccella, Vice President of Marketing and Business Development. “There is a tremendous amount of confusion in the market. Consumers are under the impression that the self-balancing products that have recently flooded the market and have received negative media coverage are manufactured and sold by Segway. Our brand’s renowned reputation for quality and safety must be protected.” 

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