Segway Clone Hits the Streets of Vegas
By Mark Hachman, ExtremeTech
January 10, 2004
LAS VEGAS--So what was that Segway-like scooter zipping outside the Las Vegas Convention Center? A knockoff? A clever imitation? Whatever it was, the Rad2Go Electric Chariot drew passersby by the dozens.
"When the Segway came out, we thought to ourselves, 'This is very interesting,'" said John Wang, president of Global Manufacture Group, Vista, Calif. "We said, we can do this, but the gyroscope technology—we didn't think people could afford it."
The Rad2Go is not a Segway. It does not contain a gyroscope, and uses four wheels to balance itself. Riders stand upright on the scooter, however, and the profile is much the same as the vaunted "It" device that captivated the media in the closing months of 2001.
The device is significantly cheaper, however, between $1,000 and $1,200 for the first 24-volt models, which will be sold to mass merchants, such as tourist-minded rental agencies. Global's factory will ship 1,400 units this Monday to its first customer, Wang said. A more expensive, higher-powered 36-volt model will begin selling in April for between $1,500 and $2,000. Amazon.com's Human Transporter Store sells Segways for $4,495 plus shipping and taxes.
The Electric Chariot uses a more conventional rechargeable acid battery which can also be swapped out for a freshly-charged model, Wang said. The two 150-watt motors can power the device approximately 15 miles on a single charge, at a maximum speed of 10 mph. A rider steers the scooter using a conventional pair of handlebars; the scooter includes a horn, headlights, and a thumb throttle. "Security" is handled via a conventional key.
In about six months, the company will shift to rechargeable lithium-ion batteries, Wang said. Future Electric Chariots will also have regenerative brakes that will cut the stopping distance at 10 mph from the current model's 15 feet to between eight to 10 feet.
Although local governments have placed restrictions on riding Segways in crowded city streets, Wang said the same restrictions shouldn't apply to the Electric Chariot. "It's not a Segway," he said. "But we're going to say to the consumer, 'You bought it, you figure it out.'"