Ray DeBruin, Mechanical Engineering Manager and Opel Project Lead at Segway, and Doug Field, CFO and VP of Design & Engineering blog from the Frankfurt Auto Show:
“I was pleased to see how the designers at Opel integrated their concepts into the show Segway PTs, especially with the design of the fender, rider mats and clever design of the folding leansteer frame. Also, as the Segway Mechanical Lead in the program, working directly with the lead mechanical engineers at Opel was an amazing experience. It was especially remarkable visiting the Opel design studio in Frankfurt and also traveling to the prototype studio with the engineers to see the show car coming together. It was an honor to witness the unveiling of the show car at the Frankfurt Auto Show and humbling to know that I had a part in Opel’s process of getting it there.” - Ray DeBruin.
Segway team members at the Frankfurt Auto Show (from left to right): Nicola Dallatana, Director of European Regulatory Affairs; Scott Waters, Director of Industrial Design; Jason Barton, VP of Global Sales; Robert Tozier, Director of Global Services; Ray DeBruin, Mechanical Engineering Manager; Doug Field, VP of Design & Engineering; Mike Gansler, Senior Princiapl Systems Engineer.
“When we started the project, I was frankly (and pleasantly) surprised to have GM, the largest automotive company in the world, approach Segway because they believed we had a piece in the puzzle of modern urban mobility. I was humbled that they would make a commitment to integrate our products into a very important concept car, from the very beginning.
GM did not tack two Segway PT’s onto the rear of the FlexTreme—to make this work, they had to relocate some key components like the fuel tank and, more significantly, the exhaust system associated with the range-extension IC engine. It was an extremely tight fit. We tried to do our part by taking out several inches in overall width and wheel diameter, then helping Opel’s engineers find a handlebar design that, when stowed, fit into the small space below the load floor. The result: when fully loaded, there is not a sign that the vehicle has been compromised to carry the Segway PT’s. The packaging is brilliant.
Ray also worked closely with Opel to make sure our product looked to be a cohesive part of the overall package. Besides matching colors, we even delivered custom-fabricated “bald” tires, which were then hand-carved at the studio to match the tread pattern on the FlexTreme’s aggressive, low rolling resistance 21” tires.
There’s quite a distance to cover before many of these concepts can become production-ready. Folding handlebars require a lot of stress analysis and testing to deal with the large forces exerted by a three-foot lever arm (the handlebars on the “show machines” needed to be reinforced after the first build). Storing the Segway PT’s in a vehicle will require many considerations by Opel engineers, such as crash safety and crush space, packaging space, weight distribution, and exhaust routing. But I’m pleased as can be to see this vision made real and demonstrated in front of the world through our partnership with Opel.” - Doug Field
The design treatment below demonstrates some of the materials that could potentially be used in the Segway PT that would be integrated into the Opel Concept.