Spend some time hanging around the Genuine Stellas in a scooter dealership and you’ll see a familiar scene: A new scooter buyer walks in, sees them, and says, “That’s what I want!” The dealer will give them them the sales pitch and it’s all good until the words “four speed manual transmission” are uttered. Though some buyers go in looking for a new manual shifty, for many first-time buyers, it’s a deal breaker or, at the very least, a source of anxiety. Ask them what they want and many will respond with something along the lines of, “Something that looks like that but is easier to ride.”
Though inevitably derided by some, a metal-bodied, classic styled, automatic scooter is precisely what many buyers are looking for and what dealers would like to have onhand to sell them. Such a thing may be available soon. LML has announced an automatic version of the Vespa PX-based Star and rumors of Vespa building its own PX Auto are gathering steam.
News of the automatic LML Star (sold in the US by Genuine as the Stella) bubbled up late last month, and has since been confirmed by both its unveiling on the LML Italia web site and photos of an actual Star Automatic posted by UK parts retailer Tasso UK on their Facebook page. The Italian site calls it a “Mondial [world] preview.” The only information: It’s a four stroke 125cc with a claimed 45km/1 Liter fuel economy—the equivalent of approximately 112 miles per gallon. More information will likely be available next month at the EICMA motorcycle show in Milan.
What’s less certain at the moment is whether the scooter will come to the US as a Stella automatic and if it does, what the specs will be and when it might arrive. Many 125s are available in the US as 150s due to licensing differences; overseas, the current LML Star is available in both 125cc and 150cc versions. It will require various modifications to be legal in the US and will have to pass EPA and California emissions testing.
The appearance of the automatic Star Automatic comes as no surprise. It’s been rumored for years, and there ave been several posts on the UK LML owners forum from dealers and distributors who had visited LML and seen the scooter in development. British magazine Scootering reported on the model last year (scan of article here).
Somewhat less expected are the fairly credible rumors of Vespa following suit with four-stroke, fuel-injected, fully automatic versions of its classic PX. According to Italian blog VespaGT.it, the PX may be resurrected as the PX Evo in 150cc and 200cc versions to debut in November at EICMA. Piaggio Group has yet to issue an official statement or press release, but the blog post is full of details, all fairly plausible.
Should both companies release competing automatic models, it could make for an interesting showdown. Vespa ceased production of the two-stroke PX in 2007. The US version didn’t sell well alongside the newer GT and LX models and couldn’t be sold in California due to emissions laws. LML (which had built the model in India under contract with Vespa and later licensed the design and sold it under the LML name) unveiled the four-stroke Star in 2009 and the scooter quickly became a hit in Europe before making its way stateside as the new Stella. In response, Vespa brought their PX back as a limited edition two stroke PX125.
Should the Vespa rumor prove true, we could see multiple versions of what, on the outside, looks like the same scooter, although with different engines and, we suspect, price points.