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International

26/01/2021

The Indian government is to kill off a last vestige of motorcycling history. Its Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) has voted to shut down Lucknow-based Scooters India. This company was the world’s final mass-producer of the originally Italian Lambretta scooter brand.

Scooters India was founded in 1972, after Lambretta parent Innocenti went bust. An Indian state enterprise had bought the Milan factory’s machinery and tooling, along with intellectual property, and shipped the whole lot out to Lucknow. Initially, this new concern manufactured Lambro three-wheeled light commercial vehicles.

A version of the GP150 scooter, branded for export as a Lambretta, was added in 1975. At its peak, Scooters India was shipping more than 35,000 Lambrettas per year. But as the design became steadily more outdated, scooter production declined and finally ceased altogether in 1997. Since then, it has only been churning out clunky three-wheeled Vikram taxis and light trucks, still basically reliant on long-in-tooth Lambro technology.

Despite a public share offer, the government maintained a majority stake in Scooters India and had to repeatedly refinance the business. Lambretta brand rights were sold on some time ago. Recently, several attempts to find buyers for the ailing firm have been made by the CCEA, without success. So it has now allocated £6.5m in redundancy funds to pay off the workforce and plans to dispose of the Lucknow site as development land.