The Newest Unnecessary ‘Car’ Fad

Published July 1, 2009

A collaborative effort between General Motors and Segway Inc. debuted Tuesday, April 7, in New York: the new PUMA (Personal Urban Mobility and Accessibility vehicle). With the assistance of GM, Segway did something everyone thought was absolutely impossible: They made the Segway even dorkier.

Styling by Urkel

Ever since they debuted to great fanfare in 2001, Segways never captured the hearts of Americans like they were supposed to. Originally projected to sell 40,000 units the first year, it is now speculated Segway probably hasn’t sold 30,000 units to date. So why didn’t they catch on?

I’m guessing it’s because they look so dang stupid. A Segway passenger looks like Urkel riding a lawnmower. When I see one go by, it reminds me of the single wheel that was driven by caveman Thor in the Johnny Hart comic strip BC.

They haven’t sold despite being purchased by several urban police forces, which use the devices as a way of humiliating the bad bicycle cops.

They are also popular in many American cities, where you can participate in a Segway tour. Yes, for just 75 bucks you can embarrass yourself in front of thousands of urban locals for three hours. It’s the only way to make tourists look more out of place in the Big City.

Big-Ticket Item

Segways are also quite expensive. And who wants to spend seven grand to look like a dope? You can buy a lot of plaid golf pants and white shoes for that kind of money.

Heck, when I was in college, a big calculator, belt case, and matching pocket protector could be had for under five hundred bucks. Certainly a couple grand spent wisely at Comic-Con could outfit several Dungeon Masters. You could get enough Star Trek and Star Wars costumes to keep you in wedgies for the entire four years of high school.

In fact, you can get a dorky little Korean car for not much more than that, something with tinted windows to hide behind, which you can legally drive on the street.

35 mph of Discomfort

That was the motivation behind the PUMA: a street-legal version of a Segway. It is being touted as a solution to gridlock, pollution, Iraq, the energy crisis, and just about everything else the Left rails about. It’s a glimpse into the future of transportation.

Great. A new car that is capable of reaching the blinding speed of 35 mph … for an hour, before you have to plug it in. (It is specifically intended for urban transport, since a cross-country trip would be quicker in a covered wagon.) It has no trunk or radio, no heat or air conditioning, and when it rains, you get wet.

Boy, I can’t wait for the future!

This isn’t the future I was promised. The future was supposed to be full of flying cars, and jet packs, and robots that dusted the furniture while making sarcastic remarks. Instead we have these Logan’s Run death carts that might someday be controlled by a remote processor and could be stopped from a central command if you try to flee the city before your 30th birthday and mandatory euthanasia.

Revenge of the Dorks

This is what the global warming alarmists want to stick you in. I cannot stress this enough. They think big trucks and sexy sports cars are destroying the planet. Not coincidentally, trucks and sports cars are the very vehicles preferred by tough guys and jocks, the same guys that beat up the scientists in high school.

The PUMA is their answer to the new sporty crossovers, cars that put the scientists’ rusty old Volvo station wagons to shame. Scientists are seeking the revenge they could not get in high school, by jamming us all into dorkmobiles. And with his recent firing of GM CEO Rick Wagoner, the Dorkus in Chief of is now stationed to make it happen.

Nobody is going to buy these things. Like the Segway that spawned it, nobody is going to want to drive a souped-up Rascal to work every morning. Only under penalty of fines and incarceration will Americans sacrifice style and comfort for the wild visions of a mad scientist.

Coolness Under Fire

How many laws have been passed already against coolness? Helmet laws, seat belt laws, and smoking bans already have severely limited Americans’ choice to look cool. (How come “choice” doesn’t extend beyond the uterus?) The same wallflowers that ran for student council are now in charge of this nation—the ones that told the teachers that the punch was spiked are frantically trying to legislate the fun out of everything American.

It is just another phase in the dorkification of the nation. We Americans always have had a swagger that set us apart from other citizens of the world, and the ultimate revenge of the nerds would be to turn these United States into Europe West. Dorky kids look normal in Europe, where their pale complexions, bad teeth, and skinny, slumping postures fit in quite well.

It would be funny, if it were not so serious.

Tim Slagle ([email protected]) is a stand-up political satirist who is a regular on the comedy nightclub circuit. He can be seen at political functions and fundraisers nationwide. For more information, visit