It’s Christmas inâ€¦ umâ€¦ late December: citing “large export orders for two-wheelers” among other factors, LML announced production of scooters and autorickshaws will restart in 2 months, hopefully ending nearly a year of labor strife, legal wrangling, government meddling, threats of self-immolation, and general whining. Those export-only two-wheelers are presumably the LML Star, Genuine Stella, and New Zealand-model Belladona, making LML the only worldwide manufacturer of Vespa-style steel-bodied manual-transmission scooters. It’s unclear, but possible the autorickshaws are being built under contract for Bajaj. Thanks, M5 for keeping an eye on the BBS for me.
Here’s the 2sb holiday staff portrait, Season’s Greetings to all 2sb readers!
Some really interesting Yamaha concept scooters designed by students at the Istituto d’Arte Applicata e Design in Turin. (The names, “Street Player” and “Ploof” were created through a similar project involving Kymco and a third-grader in Atlanta.) Thanks to Mad Man Maddox, who sent this in October, whoops!
At 12:30pm on Tuesday, December 19, a red Vespa GTS 250, the 100,000th Vespa of 2006, rolled off the Piaggio assembly line, a production milestone not reached since 1990. Vespa production topped 50,000 in 2004, and reached 87,000 in 2005, so Vespa production has doubled in two years. Piaggio chairman/CEO Roberto Colaninno came down to the line for the celebration, and announced the company will donate one Euro for each Vespa sold in 2006 and 2007 to the Italian multiple sclerosis association
If you ever needed motivation to always carry extra Bungees, Steve Williams from Scooter in the Sticks brought home a 5-foot-tall Fraser fir tree on the back of his Vespa LX150. Awesome!
Sorry, we’ve still been a bit under the weather and busy with the impending holidays, but here are some stories from the last week to keep you up to date:
- Seinfeld star (and model for illnoise’s current hairstyle) Jason Alexander is getting around Australia on a Vespa.
- Autoblog makes a corny joke about AMCA’s bazooka Vespa with the inevitable comment that, being French, the gun should point backwards.
- There are hundreds of online shops selling electric bikes and scooters, but finally one man, Rich Sathoff of Raleigh, NC, had the idea to actually learn to repair them.
- Despite being indicted in a huge financial scandal last week and facing more than four years in prison, Piaggio boss Roberto Colaninno met with Italy’s prime minister yesterday, and is expected to bid for control of Italian airline Alitalia in January. Only in Italy. (Note: we could be totally misinterpreting that poorly-translated press release).
- Rumors of the death of the Indian scooter market have been exaggerated. Honda’s Indian subsidary is raising scooter production 20% after reports that Bajaj is developing new scooters. Analysts predict Indian makers will introduce as many as 60 new two-wheeler models in 2007, despite the indroduction of Tata Motors well-hyped Rs 1-lakh (US$2,250) automobile. Bajaj, meanwhile, has raised prices on all models other than the Pulsar by a whopping Rs500 (US$11).
- Speaking of the Pulsar, the Bajaj motorcycle was reported to be the first motorcycle to complete the Carrerra Pan Americana, a seven-day, 3000km race across Mexico. This was the first year motorcycles were invited to participate, though the English-language site for the event lists no rules or results for motorcycles.
- Back to India, motoring magazine Top Gear has named the 165cc Kinetic Blaze “‘Two-wheeler design of the year.” Never mind that Italjet designed it several years ago–to be fair, Kinetic has made some improvements to the original.
Gizmag has a look at the new 850cc Gilera GP 800, the first scooter to ever round down its displacement. It reads a bit like a reworded press release, giving the impression they haven’t ridden it either, but it’s fair to predict it’s going to be a pretty exciting ride. To be honest, the thing that excites me most about it is that demand may eventually force Piaggio to bring the Gilera brand to the U.S., which would make the Gilera Runner finally available here.
Earlier last week, Gizmag also reported that Vectrix is developing an electric version of the 3-wheeled MP3under license from Piaggio.
Our good friends Matt and Trish at Crafty Planet are offering a special holiday deal for 2strokebuzz readers. Order any fabric (including, but not limited to, the 1 2 3 4 scooter-themed fabrics shown above) and get a free Sublime Stitching “Scooter Babe” Pattern now through the end of 2006. Just put ‘2SB ROCKS’ in the comments field when checking out and the pattern will be yours. Even if you’re not crafty, or not buying for a crafter, the Planet offers loads of great handmade gifts.
The China Post reports that a university student thown from the pillion of a crashed scooter was unharmed after tumbling 65 feet down a mountain and landing in a pile of garbage.
Jo and Ants of Tuk to the Road fame will appear Tuesday (December 12, 2006) at the Royal Geographical Society in London at 7:30pm to talk about their travels and show a short film. The pair traveled 12, 500 miles across Asia and Europe this summer, raising nearly Â£33,000 to date for Mind, and are currently working on a book.
Patrick sent us these photos of some extreme Piaggio MP3 stoppie and knee-dragging action on a french site. Good stuff.
Powersports Business online reports today that an Italian court has convicted Piaggio & C. SpA Chairman and CEO Roberto Colaninno for illegal handling of the bankruptcy of a real estate and hotel company. Colannino has been sentenced to more than 4 years of jail time, subject to appeal. Two other Italian bankers were also convicted and sentenced. Colaninno remains in his post at Piaggio. We’ll certainly have more details on this as it becomes more clear.