Bajaj stops production of geared scooters, ArgoUSA future uncertain

Maharashtra Scooters, the factory that produces the Bajaj Chetak, has stopped production of manual-transmission scooters. 2,450 Chetaks remain on the factory floor, and it appears ArgoUSA (formerly Bajaj) isn’t expecting any more: (From their site)

“We are working to solidify relationships with other scooter manufacturers that can provide us with the quality and reliability that is expected by the American scooter rider.”

BajajUSA’s sales message of economy and practicality was ahead of its time in the US, when other importers were pitching scooters as luxury toys to internet millionaires, and $3/gal. gas was unthinkable. A serious blow was dealt by the introuduction of the similar, but trendier—and not-much-more-expensive—Genuine Stella about a year later. The Bajaj featured a more modern and fuel-efficient 4-stroke engine, and owners and dealers gave the Chetak and Legend high marks, but the Stella’s arrival, and a seeming lack of interest in the US market from Bajaj HQ, loomed over BajajUSA for the last couple years. (Another Maharashtra Scooters story)

Schwinn Motor Scooters

While we’d like to thank Schwinn Motor Scooters for linking to 2strokebuzz, we’d also like to make it clear that 2strokebuzz in no way endorses Schwinn motorscooters. I don’t think i’ve ever mentioned them before, simply because they appear to be Chinese Yamaha knockoffs with a big Schwinn sticker on the front. Maybe they’re allright, try it out and let us know what you think, but in the meantime, we’d spend the extra few hundred bucks for a real Yamaha Vino. (UPDATE: 4-18-06: It turns out there’s much more to the story.)

LML locks out workers at “Stella” factory.

DNA India reports that LML has locked out workers at their Kanpur plant, where Genuine’s Stella scooter, among other scooters and motorcycles, is manufactured. LML declared the lockout this morning in response to “external rowdy elements…disrupting the peaceful atmosphere and working of the factory.” LML management failed to pay employees full wages and has suspended production in response to financial losses and restructuring.


We got back from Paris yesterday, here are our photos of Paris in general (or just check out the scooter-related photos)

Things I noticed:

  • Scooters and motorcycles are everywhere, even as the temperature hovered around the freezing point. (Lap aprons are very common on motorcycles and scooters.) Basically, the whole town sounds like you’re at a scooter rally, all day and all night.
  • Scooters easily outnumber motorcycles 3-1. Most motorcycles we saw were small-displacement and Asian, the few bigger ones we saw were usually Ducatis or BMWs.
  • It’s impossible to walk a block on any street in Paris without seeing several scooters parked on the sidewalk. Nirvana for American scooterists, but probably no fun for most pedestrians.
  • Piaggio definitely dominates the market, even over Peugeot. Modern Vespas (ETs and GTs) and Piaggios (X9s and Libertys) are everywhere, and P-series scooters were far more common than i expected, maybe 1 out of 20 scooters was a P or PK-series. There were a good number of Peugeots, but mostly older beaters, I saw only a couple Speedfights. In Ireland a couple years ago, Gilera Runners dominated the market, but we only saw one in Paris. Kymco and Aprilia also had a decent share of the market. Chinese and Taiwanese scooters were common, but I saw few Hondas or Yamahas, and no “retro” Asian scooters other than one Honda Joker (called the “Shadow” there?).
  • Most scooters, even the relatively expensive Vespas, were healthily thrashed, parked against walls and each other with stickers and dents galore. They’re transportation there, not fetish objects.
  • We did see several nicely-maintained vintage Vespas that were clearly owned by lifestyle scooterists, mostly smallframes like the one above.
  • As far as 4-wheeled vehicles, I couldn’t believe the number of Smart Cars, they’re cleaning up there. Minis (both old and new) were common, and all manner of tiny Citröens, Peugeots, and Renaults were everywhere. VW and Audi were probably the biggest importers. All the cars were tiny: the streets are narrow, traffic and parking is a nightmare, and gas is expensive. One of the biggest popular cars was a 2-door version of the Toyota Rav-4. Like the scooters, the cars mostly looked like they’d had a hard life.

I’ll post more later about the two scooter shops we visited.

Genuine Black Cat

At the Dealer Expo in Indianapolis last weekend, Genuine Scooter Co. (of Stella fame) unveiled their Black Cat scooter, and some other surprises. Not much technical info there, but it’s eyecatching, i’m guessing PJ had something to do with that and hopefully he’ll chime in with some backstory. We’re also hoping to repost Phil Waters’ (of POC Scooters) recap of the DealerExpo later today, if he gives us permission.