Benzina, following on from a chat with John at Ducati Restorations who was at Mandello for the 90th birthday-bash, and the inevitable PR guff that accompanies theses events - like Guzzi announcing a brand new engine by 2013 from an all-new factory to be built alongside the original (which will become a tourist and heritage site, as reported in Benzina #6).
John saw round the new facilities and was impressed at production levels; he (unlike me) even got into the old wind-tunnel, though the museum was so rammed he gave up trying to visit. "They shut off the town centre so that there were just bikes - you couldn't move for Guzzis."
So maybe all will be well, with Guzzi boasting sales are up by 31%, and if the new Norge (pronounced Norrgay - don't snigger, it means Norway to celebrate a past Guzzi trek oop north) can pinch BMW sales maybe all will be well. Problem is that if you did deeper that jump in sales is to just 6000 units a year, where last year they were talking of 10,000 with ambitions to double that.
More encouraging is that Piaggio are targeting the emerging Asian markets that already accounts for half of the groups sales, although back here in the UK one dealer grumbled to me that plans to double UK sales revolved around doubling the dealer network. Hmm... Our local biking Superstore George White's (which I remember being a corner shop on Swindon's notorious Manchester Road when it was really just George and his daughter) are now Guzzi dealers. I'm told GW's can sell you a GSXR for less than small Suzuki dealers pay the importers, and that might be the way to shift units, but it's not the way the build a brand or attract new faces into motorcycling. And I've just seen that the number of people getting a bike licence in the UK is the lowest since records began...