2011 Gas-Price Scooter Frenzy Begins

POCPhil launches the 2011 gas price scooter media blitz. Fine, even Phil’s doing it*, I’m not gonna begrudge dealers for milking the gas mileage argument, scooter shops that lasted through 2010 really need the business, and I hope 2011 rivals 2008 for scooter sales. But if consumers do some research, they’ll see fuel prices are an excuse to buy a scooter, not a true justification.
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Your Government at Work?

The cause of the several-months-long 4T Genuine Stella delay is revealed thanks to FOIA request. The emissions stickers weren’t sticky enough, and the idle mixture screw wasn’t sufficiently tamperproof. I don’t know if “Epoxy coating” means they were supposed to glue them in place, or if that’s referring to the dumb plastic cap that covers the 1/2″ hole in the airbox (Nevermind, looking at my photos of the prototype, the 4T carb isn’t inside the airbox), but either way, that seems like a pretty minor issue. And honestly, that screw is there because it sometimes needs to be adjusted.

I applaud the U.S. and California governments for looking out for our security, safety, and ecological future. I’m absolutely glad they’ve ramped up enforcement. But they basically screwed Genuine here, badly, after ten years of letting anything with two wheels enter the country.

The real irony? The pollution created by shipping these buggers back to India and back (1000+ scooters, by land and sea) has a measurable environmental impact that surely outweighs the infraction. But that’s (mostly) outside the U.S., so who cares, right? Way to save the earth!

Props to Ralph for taking the trouble to find out instead of speculating on the boards for four months, like the rest of us.

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.
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The New Stella, unveiled

For more than a year, rumors have been circulating about a new 4-stroke version of Genuine Scooter Company’s Stella motorscooter. Genuine confirmed the model a few months ago, but has otherwise been very quiet about the project. This week, Genuine allowed 2strokebuzz a quick look at a “New Stella” prototype (and a ride!) just before it was sent for CARB testing in California.
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Happy Earth Day! (2-Stroke Dope revisited)

A couple days ago, we got some great feedback about our story refuting press reports about scooter emissions, notably Cecil Adams’ syndicatedThe Straight Dope column“Give a Scooter, Pollute Her.” The way Cecil framed the question left us doubting his conclusions, but we admitted there was something to his findings, and wondered about specific emissions figures.

Well, 2SB reader “JSH” tracked down some real numbers, and his comment was so thorough and insightful, we’ll just reprint the whole thing here:
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MotorcycleUSA’s “Vespanomics” conclusions

We mentioned last spring that MotorcycleUSA was planning on commuting on a Vespa for a few months to see if PiaggioUSA’s “Vespanomics” held up. We just noticed they posted their conclusions last December, which match what we’ve been saying all along: It’s hard to justify the cost of a new scooter (including maintenance, insurance, and) if you already own a car, but it’s a great substitute for a new car or second car, for a single person without kids. They didn’t really explore the ecological benefits, which are usually overstated, but worth mentioning, but they do mention that it’s a fun way to get around, which we think is the biggest selling point of a scooter.

“One of those little things that buzz by in traffic”

Just when you think you’ve seen every vintage Vespa film there is, YouTube digs up more gold. This 1961 Vespa commercial, presumably produced by ’60s East-coast distributor Vescony, makes a very clear argument for the Vespa as a commuter vehicle, then pushes their luck with exaggerated mileage promises (125mpg?) and oversimplification of the engine to “three moving parts.” (The party line has always been four, which already seems a bit oversimplified, unless you’re counting, for example, the entire transmission consisting of the gearshift linkage, gear cluster, shifting cross, and Christmas tree as “one part.”) A great find. (Thanks to Dave McCabe.)

UPDATE: VCOA historian John Gerber comments:

It’s definitely Vescony, but it’s 1964 NOT 1961. It’s a Carl Alley produced commercial. Several were produced, but Piaggio would not share in any of the costs for airing them. They were never shown nationally, but some of the larger dealers showed them locally during non-primetime. In general, they were way too expensive to be shown even at off times. I saw one only once for my local dealer during a Saturday afternoon movie re-run. If Piaggio had enough sense to underwrite serious advertising in the U.S. things might have gone a lot different for them.

Australian Yamaha scooter TV ad

Via Steve, a nicely-done Australian Yamaha TV commercial showing the economical aspects of their scooters. Genuine and even PiaggioUSA are working on pretty limited budgets, but you have to wonder why Yamaha and Honda, who actually do run national spots on cable TV, haven’t done anything like this here in the U.S. yet. If it wasn’t for the Australian coins shown at the end (and if they added a few models to their lineup), they could even run this one.