LML ready to counter Vespa threat
November 2, 2010
Can Vespa shut down LML in Europe with their new PX retread? We’re betting it won’t be easy. The LML was on the market first, and even their top-of-the-line 4-stroke model is quite a bit cheaper than the Vespa model it apes (no pun intended). On top of that, Italy and PGO are offering subsidies of up to 22% for the 4-stroke LML Star Sure, there is a crowd that would never settle for an LML over a Vespa, but we bet plenty of thrifty Europeans will choose the cheaper LML, especially where subsidies apply. And Vespa’s threat is further mooted with new LML models expected to be announced at EICMA this week. Rumors include automatic transmission, electronic fuel injection, an electric version, and 50cc, 200cc, and even 250cc variants. We don’t expect to see all of those (especially the 250) but you can bet on a few of those, and a “Create your Star” program becoming available soon, at least in Europe.
In the disintegrating U.S. market where the LML Star is sold as the Genuine Stella, Vespa is unlikely to import the PX. The PX models sold a few years ago were priced at about $5000 and were unavailable in California. That price would likely be higher today, and California’s CARB emissions standards are spreading to 16 states, including scooter-friendly Washington, Oregon, New York, and Florida.
Ironically, the Vespa’s dated-but-beloved 2-stroke engine might be it’s biggest selling point, as LML is allegedly phasing out their 2-stroke version. But it’s still a mystery why Vespa, who were forced out of the US market in 1985 by emissions laws, haven’t bothered to develop a 4-stroke engine for the classic Vespa frame in the ensuing 25 years. Vespa and Piaggio continue to innovate in other product lines, so perhaps it’s a smart decision (and minimal investment) to keep the Vespa PX frozen in time, but LML is likely to cut deeply into the PX’s relatively small pool of customers with the same classic body, competitive pricing, and more modern engineering.