By on May 26, 2015

Vespa In Ravenna, Italy Circa August 2011

Like France falling out of love with diesels, Italy is falling out of love with mopeds and scooters due to changing trends.

Data published by the National Association of Motorcycle, Bicycle and Accessories — ANCMA — shows moped sales crashing 97 percent, falling from the peak of 600,000 in 1980, to 26,727 units in 2014, Al Jazeera English writes. Sales of 125cc scooters aren’t doing so well, either, slowly declining from 173,343 units sold in 1955, to 37,388 in 2014.

The causes for the decline? According to ANCMA’s motorcycle chief Claudio Deviti, “the younger generation is just not as interested in mopeds as it used to be,” with technology the key reason. Deviti says the smartphone has taken the place of the moped in fostering friendships among young consumers.

Another factor is Italy’s ongoing economic downturn, weakening spending power as maintenance costs for mopeds rise. In the moped’s heyday, all one needed was the money buy such a vehicle. Over 50 years later, the average cost with licensing, stamp duty, and insurance comes to $2,250, $1,350 without. Cosenza, Italy moped mechanic Attilio Brisci explains:

Today mopeds are simply too expensive for the great majority of Italian households. People have two choices: renounce the use of the moped, or simply go without insurance at the risk of getting caught. I would say the average of those who do these is 50–50, with percentages getting higher the more one goes farther south.

[Source: Luca Sartoni/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0]

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44 Comments on “Italy Falling Out Of Love With Mopeds, Scooters Due To Changing Trends...”


  • avatar
    CJinSD

    Aprilia, Benelli, Beta, Ducati, Garelli, Gilera, Iso, Lambretta, Moto Guzzi, Motor Morini, and Vespa all competed for the Italian domestic market that is now gone. The new EU definition of middle class doesn’t include any freedom or physical experience; just a phone and a video game.

    • 0 avatar
      319583076

      If the middle class objects to their new status, where are the protests?

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      This is like complaining about the decline of car culture North America.

      The real reason is that it’s expensive and unnecessary to drive as much. I wish I could find the post I made a couple of years ago on this (because I am lazy) but it really comes down to this:

      * Phones are cheap
      * Phones are easy
      * Cars and bikes are not easy, nor cheap
      * Insurance costs more yet
      * If someone wanted to find out whose parents were away for the weekend and/or needed private space for some nookie, people of my parents’ age would have to cruise around, where I would have made a few phone calls and, by comparison, my kids will probably just text or use the social network-du-jour.

      This isn’t a “freedom” thing, it’s a times-are-a-changin’ thing. People are still people.

      • 0 avatar
        Rod Panhard

        Phones aren’t that cheap though. So the youth of today have to make choices. In Italy, the phone wins because the youth don’t see any value in buying insurance or paying taxes on a scooter.

        It’s not really any different here. America’s youth were just forced into buying health insurance. Now, other sectors of the economy are paying the price. Retail for example.

        • 0 avatar
          psarhjinian

          “Phones aren’t that cheap though”

          A decent smartphone, like Moto-G or Lumia 600-series, is less (outright, not contracted) than one or two insurance payments, and a Lumia 500 or Moto-E is one car payment and/or one insurance payment.

          The monthly bill, even in North America, is also much less than insurance, car payments or parking.

          With said phone you can find out what’s going on quickly, rather than cruising around figuring it out. Especially in cities (which is where most people live) a car is a great, big, sucking liability.

          “It’s not really any different here. America’s youth were just forced into buying health insurance”

          That would be because the US has possibly the second-worst healthcare option the developed world has ever known(the worst being what the US had before the ACA).

          Complaining about it would be like complaining about how taxes are higher now that we have to have these pesky paved roads, and life was better when we had rutted, muddy, horse-trails.

    • 0 avatar
      kmoney

      Do any of those brands really care, outside of a sense of patriotism and pride for their home country. Most have gone on to sell higher-priced and higher-margin products in other parts of Europe and NA.

    • 0 avatar
      RobertRyan

      @Cameron Auburuon
      “France falling out of love with Diesels” I do not think so. Paris has fallen out of love with old Diesels and Gas engines that pollute too much

  • avatar
    mike1dog

    I’m a little confused by that quote, which percentage gets higher, the ones not buying mopeds or the ones not getting insurance?

    • 0 avatar
      05lgt

      Way back when I noticed that all Italians think everyone who’s from south of them is a criminal. This holds until you get to Sicily, where they think everyone from north of them is a crooked politician stealing with both hands.

  • avatar
    CrapBox

    As they say in South America, “He who has insurance is already dead.”

  • avatar
    Undefinition

    I’ve only been in Italy once, but I’ll never forget the “mosquito-swarming” sound of the “motorinos” on their Mopeds darting everywhere. They made you feel like you’re a human version of Frogger every time you crossed the street. But alas, I guess that sound has been supplanted by SMS alerts from iPhones.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    I guess all things must come to an end .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    Mandalorian

    I would estimate the used market is huge, so youngsters probably still want them just not new ones.

    Also with all those taxes and crap on them, it’s not that big of a leap to a decent used car in price comparison.

    • 0 avatar
      RideHeight

      “the used market is huge”

      Kind of what I was thinking. Scooters are so bone simple and I don’t imagine Italian machinery kept in Italy is all that subject to rust, so why wouldn’t it be like, say, the used gun market here in the States? With even the most minimal care, millions of guns serve multiple generations of hunters.

    • 0 avatar
      Felix Hoenikker

      Maybe the sales of new mopeds are down in Italy, but not the popularity of small motor bikes among the young Italians. During our two week “grand tour” of Italy last October,we started out in Rome and travelled south to Sorrento and the Amalfi coast in a Fiat Qubo manual diesel hatchback. After reaching Pompeii on the first day, we drove around the bay to Sorrento where we stayed on the mountainside above the town. Driving through Sorrento was quite an experience, the main road is a simple two normal lanes with parking on either side. It was very congested so the kids on the mopeds et al split the lanes forming three additional two wheeler lanes – one on each side of the car lanes and one up the middle. These split lanes are barley wide enough for a small bike to pass through. The real funs starts when the bikers on the outside lanes decide to move into the car lane and almost brush you front right fender doing so.
      I didn’t think that I would get through Sorrento without either wearing some hapless moped driver on my hood or running one over when he might get tripped up on my bumper as he decided to swoop in front of me.
      Strangely enough, I never saw a single accident anywhere in Italy in our 2000km journey. Everyone seemed to know just how much room they had to work with.
      So maybe the sales of new mopeds are down, but there is still a few million left in circulation.

      • 0 avatar
        Lorenzo

        The drop in sales is partly due to the economy, but part may be demographics. The birth rate has dropped, so the population has aged, and there are fewer young Italians. The 15-24 age group is under 10%, those over 65 are now 21%, and the median age is 43. The US numbers are 14%, 12.8% and 35. Add in the previously mentioned used market and smaller expense of repair, and it’s no wonder fewer new scooters are being sold.

    • 0 avatar
      Hummer

      When licensing and registration (on a scooter for Christ sake) cost almost the same as the scooter itself, buying used is probably a very wise idea. Similar to tractors in the U.S., and partially why we still see IH tractors from the 40s still working in fields. Seems the government has done an excellent job destroying a sizable industry. Then again, maybe people don’t want to be riding a Vespa like an on and off again part time working, DUI having alcoholic, but that’s the American in me talking I suppose.

    • 0 avatar
      Signal11

      The used scooter market is a secondary effect of a very simple explanation that has nothing to do with the youth of today having completely different values of modalities of interaction than previous years.

      This is the population pyramid of Italy (2014):

      http://www.indexmundi.com/graphs/population-pyramids/italy-population-pyramid-2014.gif

      1. The potential market is a fraction of the size it used to be.
      2. The past market was huge, which means the market is completely saturated with usable old scooters.

      This is by far the simplest explanation.

      If your hypothesis is that changing values, priorities and economic pressures are affecting the take rate beyond the smaller population of scooter/moped riding youths (and massive number of used scooters you might not even have to buy), then show me the data. Show me lower registration and/or ownership rates per household.

      Old folks love talking about how the kids of today spend all their time interacting on their phones instead of face to face as it was in previous generations, completely forgetting that for decades, multiple landlines were de rigueur for middle class households with teenagers. We completely forget that only fifteen years ago, teens tying up all the phone lines in the house was what middle aged men complained about.

      • 0 avatar
        RideHeight

        I’m an old folk and I endorse this comment.

        *sigh* Princess phones.

      • 0 avatar

        I endorse this explanation. Always follow the numbers.

      • 0 avatar
        Rod Panhard

        It’s a double-whammy for the scooter makers.

        Not only are there fewer kids, but kids only have so much money. Phones aren’t that cheap. Kids don’t want to buy insurance, and if we didn’t require them to buy health insurance, they wouldn’t. And taxes? What benefit do kids see in taxes? None.

        So they make a choice. They’d like both a phone and a moped, but they have to choose one. And this time, it’s the phone. For now, a new phone is cool.

      • 0 avatar
        -Nate

        Teenagers on the phone ! .

        That was 20 + years ago but it surely pissed me off =8-) .

        I’d tell him once then go unplug the ‘phone line from the wall in about two minutes .

        -Nate

      • 0 avatar
        joeaverage

        That and a person can keep some of the scooter designs running literally forever if the rust bug doesn’t get the chassis.

        Engine died? Transmission died? A few bolts and the entire driveline comes out.

        Aftermarket and OEM spares are everywhere.

        I own a ’74 Vespa 150 Sport.

  • avatar

    IIRC, it was the American Cushman and its use by paratroopers in the invasion of Italy back in WWII the spurred the popularity of scooters, yeah?

    Vespas still command a premium in the scooter community here and there is a large enthusiast population in West Central Florida (namely St. Petersburg, the beaches, and Tarpon Springs).

  • avatar
    darex

    Define what you mean by “moped”, because I’m pretty sure that hardly anyone drives a pedal-driven gasoline vehicle there. Pretty sure you mean “scooter” exclusively, and in that case, the shift has been towards Maxi-scooters, which ARE significantly more expensive, and which require full motorcycle licenses.

  • avatar
    OneAlpha

    God.

    We don’t want to drive, we don’t want to ride, we don’t want to go outdoors and we don’t want to talk to real live human beings – all we want to do is stare at these little black boxes that transfix us with big noises and colorful moving lights.

    Is the computer really a boon to mankind, or is it the electronic equivalent of the stupor-inducing liquor that the drunk slowly kills himself with?

    • 0 avatar
      GMat

      God, indeed!
      Do you remember the biblical story of how Adam and his old lady got themselves thrown out of paradise? Short version it had something to do with not partaking of the fruit from the tree of knowledge, but they (she) decided to eat that apple anyway.

      Fast forward a few 100k years and what has proven to be our greatest addiction. Our thirst for knowledge. Although we erroneously equate information as knowledge, we just can’t get enough of it. Supplanting not only our cars, it has even replaced our love of travel. And what is the most popular way to get at this instant gratification, via Apple; the smart phone. It would appear that the devil has a sense of humor.

      • 0 avatar
        -Nate

        Not quite that bad ~

        My Son is 36 and he still loves to go places , he rides his various Motos , Dune buggies , race cars and HUGE 4X4 Chevy Diesel pickup truck monster that never smokes .

        He likes to take his Wife (who’s a competitive racer) and my Grand Daughter too .

        I go on lots and lots of Road Rallies , I have tried interesting folks here but no one ever showed up , not once .

        Burning dead dinosaurs and polluting the environment will always be fun .

        -Nate

        • 0 avatar
          joeaverage

          Come to our neighborhood. A dozen or more kids live here. Mine are the only ones you’ll see outside. The rest are holed up inside…

          Don’t know if it is the a/c, the TV, the computer or helicopter parents (that accounts for one family for certain).

  • avatar
    friedduck

    Scooter sales in Italy cratered when they introduced helmet laws and I don’t think they ever recovered. I can’t remember when I first read about it but it feels like a decade ago.

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    I don’t know if pricing is the same as the US, but…

    I recently decided I wanted a small motorcycle. I liked the Honda PCX150. The price is $3500. Out the door, the dealer wanted $5k.

    Instead, I bought a used Honda C70 Passport for $700. That’s a huge price differential.

    • 0 avatar
      -Nate

      FWIW ;

      I refurbish old Honda 90 C.C. Tiddlers (NOT Mo-Peds !) and it takes me right at $1,000 each to whip one into good shape , current tags & title.

      Then it’s a rare thing to get more than $1,100 out of one when I sell them off .

      Odly , I get much more interest & $ for a CT90 than I will for a 125 single that’ll have a five speed tranny and go 70 MPH on the freeway with my bloated self on it .

      Tiddlers are real Motocycles and ever so much fun to ride and the 200 + MPG doesn’t hurt , unless you’re fat like me they’ll go 50 MPH all day long .

      Mo-Peds , feh .

      One can easily buy and make road worthy a 250 ~ 500 C.C. twin for the same $ .

      -Nate

  • avatar
    gnekker

    I believe that 50 cc mopeds and scooters are technically obsolete – Electric bicycle can serve the same purpose, is cheaper to run and without the hassle of insurance, registration, license etc

    • 0 avatar
      -Nate

      This sounds like you don’t actually ride much ~ I routinely ride a 90 C.C. Tiddler all day long , far away , your Electric Bicycle is cool and all but suffers terrible distance restrictions .

      -Nate

      • 0 avatar
        gnekker

        Not lately, but I did im my youth, everything from 50 to 1100 cc.
        I was referring to 50 cc mopeds and scooters that are restricted by law to <50 kmh but still require some kind of drivers license, helmet, insurance and registration. Those traditionally were commuters tool, and that role is better served by electric bicycles.
        90 cc bike is not a moped.

  • avatar
    hawox

    i still have my mopped (motorino) in the garage, it was status symbol when i was 14…. well not mine wich barelly reaches 30, but elaboration was very popular (and illegal).
    practical transport in smaller cities, 2 strokes, cheap, could go the whole week with 3L of gas.
    but then insurance increased, recently they introduced license and documents wich costs more than the mopped itself also 2 strokes are banned.
    nonsense, you wait 2 years and buy a 125cc or a 250cc real bike wich costs nothing to buy and maintain and lasts forever, is also more fun.

    in the nederlands you can ride the mopped on bicicle lanes with no helmet if you go slow. they are more civilized than us.

  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    If there are no mopeds, how will the young thieves snatch a purse or camera bag from the tourists, when they are enjoying an espresso on a sidewalk cafe?

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