Almost exactly one year ago today, DiamoUSA announced they were bringing Italjet scooters to the U.S. (Our January 9, 2007 interview with Mathu Solo is here). A year has passed and no visible progress has been made, other than a few mysterious (and probably Asian-made) Torpedos (a model not even currently listed on Italjet’s site) showing up at small-time dealer in Minnesota a couple months ago. Today Steve Guzman of the Scooter Scoop announced he’s been hired by LS Motorsports (Diamo’s parent company) to handle marketing and Sales for ItaljetUSA. I’m happy for Steve, he’s a friend and an good guy, but it’ll be interesting to see what happens next. In November I was on the edge of writing a rant accusing Diamo and Italjet of knowingly deceiving dealers about Italjet’s comeback (or at least its timing) to sucker them into selling Diamo’s other models, but after seeing that Italjet actually had a booth at EICMA, (and the minor fact that I lacked any concrete evidence), I thought better of it, though I still have my doubts. Diamo’s somewhat-fragile reputation is on the line here, and hiring Steve was a wise move, hopefully he can be honest and realistic with dealers and the scootering public. Italjet in the late ’90s and early ’00s was an exciting, promising brand that never realized their full potential thanks to bad import/distribution deals and an abysmal parts supply. The Dragster, in particular, was probably the most beloved scooter of the modern era, and certainly the most distinctive, but it wasn’t given a chance in America. Hopefully this very quiet past year was spent developing manufacturing and distribution resources and preparing for a real launch, because on the surface, I’d be pretty furious if I signed onto Diamo under the promise of the Italjet line.
I still suspect Italjet’s Italian operation consists of a P.O. box in Bologna, a trademark attorney, and a hotline to a factory in Korea. If that’s true, there’s still plenty of potential there if quality control, engineering, marketing, and dealers are handled properly (Genuine does more or less the same thing, and they do it very well). If Italjet is staffed-up and building a giant factory in the outskirts of Bologna, let’s see some photos, let’s get the real scoop. If I see that same 2002 Dragster at Dealer Expo, Steve (who reported eight months ago that “Dragsters are on the boat!” and we’d see them in 6-8 weeks) is going to have a lot of explaining to do.
UPDATE: See comments for Steve’s response.