Segway Puts GPS on Roadmap

The personal vehicle maker introduces a new promotion through which it will include Garmin handheld GPS devices on its Human Transporters.

Segway Inc. launched a new program on Wednesday, through which it will offer free global positioning systems made by Garmin along with its Human Transporter vehicles.

As part of the promotion, labeled by the firms as Find Your Way with Segway, buyers will receive a free Garmin eTrex Legend or eTrex Legend C GPS handheld unit when they buy a new Human Transporter (HT), Cross-Terrain Transporter (XT) or Golf Transporter (GT) through January 2006. The Segway HT retails for $4,495, while the XT model costs $4,995 and the GT goes for $5,495.

The Garmin GPS devices, which retail for roughly $170 and $250 respectively, are considered by some experts to be among the better personal GPS units on the market.

Executives at Bedford, N.H.-based Segway said that engineers at the company may add various kinds of onboard electronics to future models of Transporters, and indicated that the company may look to partner with other device makers to combine popular technologies like the Garmin with its vehicles.

While Segway discourages people from wearing headphones while they ride Transporters, Apples iPod music player has become a trendy device to mount on the two-wheeled scooters.

Klee Kleber, vice president of marketing at Segway, said that the GPS add-on was a virtual no-brainer based on the manner in which people tend to use the Transporters.

"People who ride the HT tend to use sidewalks, bike trails or slow roads, so having a GPS around to give you the best route can be helpful to finding where you want to go more easily," said Kleber.

"It also gives people something else to look at when theyre heading on the daily commute, and weve heard from our customers that theyre interested in things like just how far they are traveling, and how long it takes them to get there."

/zimages/6/28571.gifMapQuest GPS service finds places and friends. Click here to read more.

In addition to the eTrex handhelds, buyers will receive a custom mount for the devices and one of Garmins mapping software applications, which list the locations of places such as restaurants, hotels and ATMs, in addition to charting local roads.

The Garmin eTrex Legend features a monochrome display with 8MB of internal memory while the Legend C has a color display with 24MB of memory, and also features an auto-routing system which promises to give a Segway rider detailed directions on how to get to their destination.

Both units track speed, heading, distance and path traveled, and elapsed time, and offer Garmins TracBack feature, which is meant to automatically guide a rider back to the beginning of their trip.

Existing Segway owners will be able to purchase the Garmin GPS units with software and mounts for $399 and $499 for the eTrex Legend and Legend C, respectively.

While privately held Segway doesnt release sales results, Kleber said that the company has sold increasing numbers of the vehicles by encouraging their use in specific tasks, such as with the Golf Transporters.

In another example, several cities have even begun deploying the machines to police officers. The company reported that it doubled quarterly sales when it launched a trial program for the Transporters at the end of 2004.

Editors Note: This story was updated to include pricing on Segway Transporter vehicles.

/zimages/6/28571.gifCheck out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, reviews and analysis on mobile and wireless computing.