India-based scooter manufacturer LML appears to be in shaky financial condition. Well, that’s not exactly news in and of itself, as LML has had financial woes for a decade or more. Things have escalated recently, however, as LML have filed a formal insolvency notice with the Indian authorities. It’s not the same as bankruptcy, but it’s a non-trivial step in that direction.
This effects American scooter fans because LML produces the Stella Auto for Genuine Scooter Company. LML produced all the previous incarnations of the Stella going all the way back to 2002 with the original 2-stroke Stella. The Stella 4T followed in 2011, but ceased production for model year 2013.
The Stella Auto has not been the runaway sales hit that Genuine had hoped for despite being, at least in our opinion, a very fun scooter to ride. LML’s ongoing financial woes (plus numerous questions from ScooterFile readers) moved us to reach out to our contacts at Genuine and see what this situation meant for the Stella.
Per our request, ScooterFile received this official statement from Genuine Scooter Company:
Genuine has been monitoring LML’s financial situation and was sad to receive notice of their insolvency. Until LML’s situation is resolved, Genuine will not be importing new Stella models. We do have access to parts through several suppliers and we will continue to sell Stella accessories through Scooterworks USA. We are truly disheartened by this turn of events as LML has been a valuable vendor for Genuine Scooters. Without LML, there would be no Stella, our first and most beloved scooter that we brought to market. We wish LML the best as they go through this process. If you have questions, please contact Trey Duren at email@example.com or Dorothy Hanley at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The important thing to keep in mind here is that LML isn’t going out of business, at least not yet. Like bankruptcy, this filing gives LML an opportunity to renegotiate how it services some of its business debt. If enough of their creditors agree to new terms, and LML is able to operate profitably, then they may do fine in the long run. In the short term, however, it means no new Stella scooters in the USA anytime soon.
It’s worth noting that this isn’t the first time Stella production has been interrupted because of issues at LML. The first time around, back in 2005, issues at the LML factory put 2-stroke Stella production on hold for more than a year. Luckily for Genuine, they’d just taken on PGO and right around the time the Stella went on hiatus, they debuted a little scooter called the Buddy. You may have heard of it.
Genuine is in an even more well-diversified position today. Continuing to work with PGO and now other contract manufacturers, Genuine has a diverse lineup of scooters. Two bright spots in terms of current sales are the new Buddy Kick and Venture 50. Genuine is also on the verge of launching their much-anticipated 400cc motorcycle, the G400C. With sales on the Stella Auto anemic, it looks like not much will effectively change for Genuine.
If this is the end of the Stella, then it’s a sad end of an era. As far as I’m concerned, the Stella paved the way for modern scooter culture as we know it today. Without the Stella, there would not have been the Buddy, and without the Buddy, modern scooter culture as we know it wouldn’t exist. ScooterFile wouldn’t exist. The Stella was the bike that got me hooked on scooters ten years ago and looking back, I’m sad that I never actually owned one. The sunsetting of the Stella 4T in 2013 meant the end of manual-transmission scooters in the USA for the foreseeable future. If the Stella Auto also putts off into the sunset for good, then the era of the P-series — the last of the vintage scooters in America — is over. Here’s hoping that’s not the case. LML has recovered in the past, so they may recover again this time as well.
Hat tip to the UK’s ScooterLab.