INTERVIEW: Neil Smith, the Man Behind Čezeta's Relaunch

Englishman Neil Smith is behind the rebirth of a distinctive and iconic Czech scooter from the 1950s and 1960s – the Čezeta. The new version is electric and the project has just benefitted from the biggest Czech crowdfunding ever.

We interviewed Neil, the sole Director of Čezeta, who recently gave a presentation to around 30 private investors. It was its first round of funding and Neil hopes to raise investment to expand manufacturing the capacity of his factory in Prostejov.

•In a previous interview, you said that “we are at the beginning of a revolution in the production of motorcycles”. What do you mean exactly?

It’s from all the new technologies that are coming into use now: electric power, internet-connectivity and 3d printing. They are each disruptive, but coming together at one time creates a massive opportunity for new manufacturers to shape our businesses to take advantage of the changes and compete with old manufacturers who have a lot more work to adapt their current business models to these new possibilities.

•Cezeta is quite expensive: why people should buy it?

It’s not really expensive at all, in fact it is cheaper than similar specification electric motorbikes from BMW and Zero, which are mass-produced. Of course the Chinese supply far cheaper bikes, but there is a reason why they are cheap. It’s like comparing McDonalds to fine dining, you get what you pay for. If you want the best quality, then Cezeta is for you.

•Who is the typical customer who buys Cezeta?

I thought it would be men in their 40s, maybe with a career in some creative industry and value heritage, design and technology. But in fact so far it seems to appeal equally to men and women, young and old, and from all walks of life.

•What do you plan for the future? Are there any other models coming to the market?

For sure. We designed the 506 in a way so that it can be a platform for the next 507. This will keep the same platform, but the exterior will be redesigned to modernise the Cezeta look, whilst still keeping the original iconic shape. In my mind, I imagine something like the way the new Mini was redesigned whilst still being true to its heritage.

Author: Perry Wilson

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