By MIN LEE, AP Entertainment Writer
HONG KONG - Actor Jackie Chan says his Segway dealership here is doing well, though costs are high because the manufacturer won't let him assemble the battery-powered scooters in China for fear of piracy. "They're afraid of people stealing the technology," the 54-year-old action star said Wednesday at a security fair in Hong Kong.
China is a leading source of knockoffs ranging from movies and music to sporting goods and medication. Beijing has toughened penalties and cracked down repeatedly, but manufacturers say violations are more prevalent than enforcement.
Chan said he was confident Segway executives would change their minds as Chinese sales grow.
A basic Segway scooter costs about $10,000 in China — pricey in a country where the average worker makes less than $100 a month. The two-wheelers, which balance on their own and glide noiselessly down streets or sidewalks, cost about $5,000 in the U.S.
Chan, who is from Hong Kong, said he didn't start the business to make money but to bring the clean technology to China. He also sells the scooters in Macau, South Korea, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Vietnam.
"This is very little money to me. I don't rely on this to make money," he said.
Chan's business partner, Matt McGuire, said they aim to sell 600 to 1,000 Segway scooters in China this year. Security and grounds staff at the Olympics will use about 100, the Beijing airport's new terminal has ordered four, and police in the eastern province of Shandong have bought 30 scooters to patrol the Olympic sailing venue, he said.
Among the Segway models on display at the security fair Wednesday were a police model and a camouflage-colored military version.
When the scooter hit the market in 2001, inventor Dean Kamen predicted it would make the car obsolete in congested cities. Segways are still a rare sight, however.
McGuire said Chan's dealership has grown "significantly" since opening in 2006, with annual revenue now in the millions of U.S. dollars.