SIL to be Sold,
Lambretta Future Unclear as Ever
September 29, 2010
The Indian government is looking to sell their majority share of Scooters India Limited, who manufactured Lambrettas until 1998, and currently manufacture the Vikram three-wheeler. Mahindra and Mahindra and Tata Motors have both expressed interest and at least one story suggests that on top of a promised $30 million relaunch of Vespa production in India, Piaggio (gasp!) is also interested in SIL.
SIL’s greatest asset may be their “world right (to) the trade name Lambretta/Lambro,” but according to the in.com story linked above, SIL’s ownership of the name is currently in dispute with the Swiss/Italian Lambretta Consortium, who appears better-equipped to win the fight.
It’s nigh impossible to make sense of the intricacies of Lambretta licensing, Fanatic Scooters has tried, but their info is out-of-date (and their book no longer seems to be available, online or off). UK branding concern Fine White Line (who list their sub-licensees at “Lambretta Global”) and Lambretta USA secured their rights directly from SIL, with Lambretta USA suggesting a new Indian-made Lambretta was a possibility when they launched their badge-engineered Adlys a couple years ago. Even sub-licensees seem to have sub-sub licensees, like Oyster World, who appear to be an American licensee of Lambretta Clothing UK, a sub-licensee of FWL, three full steps removed from SIL, who it turns out may not own the rights anyway. Meanwhile, the Consortium is apparently licensing the name to other companies (and even listing some of the FWL properties on their site to further confuse things). The Consortium also seems to oversee the European-market “Lambrettas,” including the “Pato” PT125/150 and the Lamb 50/125 (both ho-hum Chinese scooters sold under dozens of brand names worldwide) and the pretty-but-mostly-imaginary Cygno concept. On top of that, there’s the MotoGP race team Lambretta Reparto Corse, which may have connections to both concerns and seems to be a vanity endeavor, spending a lot of money to promote a brand that barely exists, at least in the two-wheel market (wait, did we mention the bicycles?). The public at large seems to have lost interest in the oversaturated brand name as the memory of the once-great scooter is replaced with an ever-growing line of random merchandise. If any of these companies were fighting over the right to revive the scooter, they’d have our vocal support, but the most legitimate attempts at reviving the Lambretta design for modern times (wisely) abandoned the Lambretta name long ago (We’re looking at you, Scomadi). The Cigno seems like the only real contender, and despite attractive renderings and trade-show maquettes, if it’s ever actually produced, it’s a good bet it’ll be another generic Asian GY6 clone with a superficial plastic shell.
Thanks loads to David V, who sent the two news stories (and another coming momentarily.)