Back in the 1980s, LML Vespa was the face of the upwardly mobile in the country and boasted of long waiting periods that would run into months. A decade-and-a-half later and now without the backing of Vespa, LML is trying to make a comeback.
Within the next 12 months, the company will launch five scooters targeting men and it is banking on the classic design of the LML Vespa. Having exported the scooters to Europe in good numbers since 2007, the firm, which brought down its workforce from 7,500 to just 750 to stay afloat, is now confident of making a comeback in the Indian market.
"We want to bring the real scooter for men back into the market. Companies have launched scooters centred around men in the recent past but they are basically women's scooters with cosmetic changes," said PS Choudhary, head of sales and marketing, LML Ltd.
At present, Honda is the market leader followed by Hero MotoCorp, Yamaha and Suzuki. With its torrid past when a labour strike and poor financial management saw the firm slide into the red 10 years ago, LML does not want to compete with them and has set realistic targets.
"Our research suggests a significant portion of scooter buyers are male and 70% of them use it individually. They buy the scooters for the convenience and do not have too many options," Choudhary added. "It's a big gap, we think with our lineage can fill. Our scooter is not in competition with the ‘male' scooters from Yamaha, Suzuki or Hero."
The comeback may be a little too late and nobody can bet LML will ever retain its position as the second-largest scooter maker but a successful turnaround would be nothing short of a fairytale.