Monday, November 8, 2010

Vespa Looks East


"Total global demand for scooters is 44 million. Europe accounts for 1.7 million; the US is about 700,000; South America another 3.5 million; and all the rest is Asia. So the future is clearly Asia." - Roberto Colaninno
"The rest" is about 40 million scooters, but Vespa - a brand that almost parallels my own life (it came into existence a year before I did) - is at this point a luxury item. When it started - I looked in vain for a famous photo of an Italian family riding one, a kid standing on the running board and another seated in front the handlebars - Vespa was the pride of Italian proles (until they could afford a Fiat). So how much of that 40 million does Vespa have a shot at? The math still works in their favor: Just 10% of Asia would match their sales everywhere else.

The quote is from Paul Betts's interview with Roberto Colannino in the Financial Times, Monday, 8 November 2010, US edition, page 16. Colannino (below) brought Vespa back from the dead. Now he's trying to revive Alitalia.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Edward VIII


Widely regarded these days as a fascist, Edward VIII, better known by his post-abdication title, the Duke of Windsor, chafed under the buttoned-down regime of his father, George V. I had this photo above my writing desk for more than a decade, because you have to admire the panache, surely the model for David Bowie at a certain age. Yes, he hobnobbed with Hitler (who reportedly thought he'd make the ideal Quisling king for a post-invasion Great Britain), but everyone should count his or her lucky stars (retrospectively) that he fell in love with Mrs. Simpson, lost the crown ("Lose the crown!"), and left GB to his stammering but far abler younger brother, George VI.