Kinetic Engineering announced today that the Velocifero, the second in its line of license-built Italjet scooters, will debut soon. What comes as a fairly huge surprise is that the Kinetic Velocifero will be “exclusively manufactured for exports to (the) U.S.” ItaljetUSA has been dormant for a few years, and it’s unclear who’s running the show. The italjetusa.com site appears to be changing hands (or at least hosts), so watch it closely for more info. (a “whois” search revealed nothing). Kinetic chairman Arun Firodia was quoted in a release as saying “We plan to export 20,000-30,000 scooters in a year. Each vehicle’s cost is around $500-$600.” (that’s their cost, not yours, settle down)
Can Kinetic sell up to three times as many scooters in the U.S. as Vespa? Can they do it with a 50cc Indian-manufactured scooter that debuted here more than ten years ago? The Velocifero design was highly regarded when it came out, and aesthetically it holds up well. Quality was respectable, but supply of vehicles and parts,–and service support–was dismal. Italjet prices were comparable to similar Vespas and Aprilias. Both Italjet and ItaljetUSA seemed dormant by early 2003 (the Italian site is frozen in time in early 2002–by which time the Velocifero had been discontinued), but the Italjet announced the Kinetic deal late in 2004. If Italjet USA hopes to sell that many scooters, they’ll need all cylinders firing: advertising, sales, service, parts, quality, and a price lower than the $3200 they were asking in 2000. Adding the Dragster to the U.S. lineup sure wouldn’t hurt, either.
This review of a prototype Kinetic Velocifero indicates that it maintains the look and steel body of the Italian version (a 2000 Italjet model is pictured above), but calls the 50cc 2-stroke engine “hopelessly underpowered.” The Velocifero, along with the other six scooters in the “Italiano” family, is to be manufactured at its Pithampur plant in Madhya Pradesh. The first of these models, the Blaze, was released in India a couple months ago, to a good amount of fanfare, and is selling about 10,000 units a month. In a world full of respected brands selling their names to Asian companies, this may be one of the few cases where the final product earns more respect than the original.