Electric Lambretta GP?

dscn0053gp1The current issue of Scoot! Magazine features an ad from GP200.net promising an “All-Electric GP200e” with a photo of a vintage Lambretta GP.

The link redirects to Wheego.net, which features absolutely no info on the scooter. Wheego is an electric car company that like most electric car companies seems to have already hyped their vehicles profusely, then missed a few self-imposed deadlines. Wheego is apparently backed by EarthLink founder (and ex-Mobil-exec) Mike McQuary, whom I will never forgive for the hour-plus I spent on the phone cancelling my EarthLink account, but my distrust of this endeavor goes beyond that experience.

The ad brashly states “Brilliance or Sacrilege? We welcome input from the scooter community.” Well, here it is (and I’m sure you’ll find more in the comments):

  • Don’t overpromise and underdeliver, which was the point of my rant yesterday. If you show a picture of a vintage Lambretta GP with a Photoshopped Wheego logo on the horncast, the final product better look just like that, or better. Don’t shit on Nuccio Bertone‘s grave.
  • If you’re working with Scooters India Limited, that’s great, say so. They’re not Innocenti, but scooterists would love to see them back to full-scale retro Lambretta biz. If not, you better be sure you’re going to be able to score both the name and the bodywork before using a phrase like “Coming Soon.” If you haven’t already staggered through the maddening world of international Lambretta name rights and don’t already have the body-panel presses, nothing is “Coming Soon.”
  • Back to the name “Lambretta:” are you even aware there’s already a company selling rebadged Adlys under that name here? And that the licensing deals worldwide are so complicated that some supposed licenseholders later learned they bought rights from people that didn’t hold them? And that there have been several failed attempts by other scooter manufacturers to acquire the name? Again, if you’re not working with SIL, we’ve got very little faith of this ever happening, and if you are, it’s only marginally more promising.
  • 200GP? 200 what? Volts? unless the electric motor is powering a 200cc cylinder, why would you call it a 200?
  • Do you have any idea how much a metal Lambretta GP frame weighs? Lambretta’s tube frame with mounted bodywork make it a good platform for modern engines, but the weight of the bodywork plus the batteries seems problematic for a proportionally-sized electric motor. And if you’re using plastic panels, don’t show a vintage Lambretta in the photo.
  • That clutch lever and shifting mechanism on the left grip are going to need to be redesigned.
  • As far as your “Whip” electric car, for all the glowing hype you’ve built in the U.S. auto press, it sure looks like a Shuanghuan Automobile e-Noble, a rebadged Chinese electric Smart FourTwo knockoff, and I’m guessing both Smart’s US legal department and China’s ineptitude are slowing you down. If this scooter is also something a Chinese manufacturer pitched to you, just walk away now.

Look, It’s not sacrilege you need to worry about, it’s reality. If you can produce a thoroughly-vintage-looking DOT/EPA legal Lambretta with metal bodywork and an electric engine that can actually propel it over 45mph, people are going to be thrilled, even if it costs ten grand. But forgive us for being cynical- you’re showing us a stock photo of a vintage bike and promising a product “soon!” and it’s very likely just a figment of your imagination. Unlike many scooter ventures, it sounds like you’ve got some real money behind the idea, and that’s great, but do some more homework, pretend this ad never happened, and when it gets closer to reality, get back to us.

(Thanks to Matt for the heads-up and the photo of the ad)

8 thoughts on “Electric Lambretta GP?”

  1. Ha, just noticed they didn’t use the word “Lambretta” in the ad, my bad, though the brand is clearly implied (in fact, is that even an old brocure photo?). “GP200” is surely harder to trademark, so they might have actually done their trademark research. The Stella is proof that a trademark is less important than credibility and reverence.

    Still, i argue, if this is an SIL-manufactured bike with some original engineering and full reverence, it’ll be great.

    If it’s the Lambretta version of the Hammerhead fake-Vespa (Chinese-made plastic copy,) it might even be decent, but that’s not the product implied by this ad at all.

    If it’s some piece of Chinese crap with a hint of superficial Lambrettaness, this ad is fraud.

  2. I hear it will be under 5 grand, run with a KERS-type system on the front wheel, have a range of 100 miles and a top speed of 55 mph. That’s just the early speculation…

  3. 200GP? 200 what? Volts? unless the electric motor is powering a 200cc cylinder, why would you call it a 200?”

    My Vespa GTS has two very prominent “250” emblems, yet in every single conversation I’ve ever had with a passer-by who wanted to tell me they like it, the question “how big is the engine?” always comes up. Always. Few people make the connection. Remember the Nissan 200 SX? I think the JDM version had a 2.0-liter engine, but the U.S. model’s was 2.4. It’s a model name, and one they can be sure won’t have any negative connotations in any language. Unlike, say, the AMC Matador (“killer” in Spanish)…

  4. “Matador” has positive connotations in Spanish though, with bullfighting…

    “Nova” (“No Va,” or “Doesn’t Go”) was a bigger faux pas.

    As far as the general public not knowing about displacement, sure, and cars use all kinds of random numbers, but motorcycles and scooters (and the people who buy and ride them) universally consider any 3 digit numbers appended to a model name to mean displacement.

    Obviously electric vehicles are a new playing field, but the name “GP200” is clearly based on the Lambretta model it lovingly emulates/knocks off (and why not the GP150 or 125, or the DL?). And in that case, the “200” is displacement. “eGP” would be a better name, or “eGP1” or “GP-e” unless they’re going to get into ampere-hours and such. Or, they could just start from scratch and give it an original but appropriate name, eg “Stella,” “Buddy,” etc.


  5. Yeah, but you wouldn’t want to ride in a car that’s a “killer,” would you?

    motorcycles and scooters (and the people who buy and ride them) universally consider any 3 digit numbers appended to a model name to mean displacement.

    Yes, but it isn’t going to be motorcyclists and scooterists who buy this thing, it’s going to be White People whose only knowledge of scootering is hearing the name “Lambretta” and somehow thinking it’s cool. See the entry about Vespa scooters.

    The fact remains, an electric scooter is less useful (and much less environmentally friendly) than a human-pedaled bicycle, and is something only a person who wishes to convey a greener-than-thou image would actually spend the money on. But people fitting this description usually have lots of money…

  6. Yeah on the white people thing.

    And yeah on bicycles, though there are people (like me, though I’ve actually been taking the bicycle for local errands lately) that are just too fat and lazy to ride a bike more than a mile or two, and there are people who want to be conveyed in style to work without having to take a shower when they get there.

    I think that there’s a big future for electric scooters once they stop trying to make them look like scooters or bicycles and once they get the price (and weight) down a bit and the range up. It’s going to take a fresh new idea, some creative engineering, and a lot of marketing money, revamping a 250-lb metal scooter (or worse yet, adding superficial bodywork to a lightweight frame) isn’t the answer.

  7. ‘All-Electric’ and classic-bodied Lambretta, to me, seem so diametrically opposite. These companies need to stop coasting on other folks ideas and innovate themselves up a relevant, modern body-style to go with their new, modern power plant at leave the good old stuff to the rest of us.

    At the very least they had the good sense to use Gotham Rounded for their copy… it’s pretty much the only contemporary thing about this ad.

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