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MP3, Piaggio Lineup, and Vespa Colors Slashed

January 19, 2012

Desaturate 100%
A Piaggio/Vespa dealer has told 2strokebuzz that a new 2Q 2012 dealer order form from PiaggioUSA has eliminated a large share of the Piaggio product line from the U.S. market, most notably the full range of MP3s.

According to our source, The Piaggio MP3 250, 400, and 500cc three-wheelers are no longer available to dealers, and the promised MP3 Yourban 300 will not replace them, let alone the endlessly-hyped hybrid that Jay Leno promised dealers in 2008. It appears Piaggio is totally abandoning the MP3 in the United States.

(UPDATE: Other evidence suggests the MP3 Yourban will be available in the U.S. later this year, probably with 350cc displacement. see comments.)

The BV lineup, previously available in 250, 300, and 500cc displacements, is now limited to the new 350 model in black or silver only.

The Vespa line is being desaturated in a more literal way, with a far smaller color palette. The Vespa GTS/Super 300i is no longer available in red, and the Vespa 150 LX S loses its red, orange, and two-tone versions, it will now be available only in Black or Titanium.

If our info is correct, that leaves only the Fly 50, Fly 150, Typhoon 125, and new BV350 in the PiaggioUSA lineup. The Fly is a reasonably-priced and worthy but unexciting scooter. The new Typhoon is an obvious competitor for the Yamaha Zuma, a very popular scooter in the U.S., but it sorely lacks Piaggio’s italian charm. The BV350 is the most compelling offering by far, and a reasonable decision… there was no need for a Scarabeo-esque range of displacements. The biggest surprise is that after years of betting the farm on the MP3, PiaggioUSA seems to have totally abandoned it. It’s actually selling great in other markets, but (to the surprise of zero Americans) Piaggio’s innovative but expensive three-wheeler never caught on here.

The Vespa line seems to remain mostly intact, but far less colorful.

None of this is surprising, Yamaha and Honda have scaled back to 2-3 models each for 2012, and it’s a well-known fact that most manufacturers are still unloading years-old stock. Honda, for instance, lists seven models on its current site but only two are labeled as “2012,” with the Metropolitans labeled “2009.” It’s not hard to find Piaggio/Vespa dealers with 2009-era stock on the floor, and with so many dealers closing industrywide, and the resulting unsold bikes coming back on the market, just about any importer would be wise to limit new models, and riders on the market may actually not even notice the lineup reduction, with so many 2-3 year old scooters on the floor nationwide. The U.S. scooter industry simply can’t support the annual model turnaround that the auto industry enjoys, and needs to find a way to convince customers that the manufacture date isn’t important. Honda’s decision to be up-front about it should be emulated by all importers.

So if the lineup reduction was understandable, and the MP3 was simply a flop, the more disappointing news might actually be the loss of colors. As we reported last spring, European riders see scooters as modest transportation and are not fond of garish colors, but Americans prefer to see a rainbow at dealers. Possibly the most appealing thing about the successful Genuine Buddy and Stella are the range of colors and ‘custom’ two-tones available. Americans don’t like to have to choose between black, white, or silver scooters. American Piaggio and Vespa dealers have always had problems getting popular colors, but if you prefer a scooter that matches your Model T, you should have no problem finding the model you want. Maybe it’s time for dealers to cook up some “Dealer Specials,” like the old days.

Comments

13 Responses to “MP3, Piaggio Lineup, and Vespa Colors Slashed”

  1. BrookeNo Gravatar on January 19th, 2012 5:42am

    As noted (and by me for several years now), I think having fewer models is a good thing. But if the collection of the Fly 50, 150 and Typhoon 125 is their Piaggio-badged scooter offering I think they could do better (the BV is a probably a great motorcycle). They should gone with one or the other and done the 50 and 125/150. I’m no fan of the new typhoon but being recently updated and aimed at the insecure male it’s probably the better choice. The reduction of 3 flavors of each the BV and MP3 is a fantastic idea. But totally eliminating the MP3 does seem very odd unless it’s solely for the purposes of running through current stock. On the street, I think I see as many of those as GTSes and way more than BVs.

    The color issue is again odd. Knocking it down to two or three options per model is a great idea. But that orange will be missed. If the effort is aimed at changing what’s available just in a model year to ensure current stock is cleared, they should make an effort on their website and through dealer training to explain that the model year makes no difference and that other colors may be available but while the machine is identical the date of manufacture may not be as recent. Maybe the burden of the automobile model year paradigm is the karmic response to the scooter industry embracing the meaningless and deceptive MSRP pricing model.

  2. scootervillainNo Gravatar on January 19th, 2012 8:49am

    The Piaggio Vespa order form has not been terribly accurate in the past few years. Last years’ had the hybrid MP3 listed for June availability with a 300cc (278) engine.
    Backlog of ’07-’10 250’s and ’09-’10 400cc models should keep the MP3 as a consumer option for awhile. It seems as though the 500s are in relatively short supply.
    Vespa is notorious for popping in with unannounced color selections in mid-year. The reissue of their “Daring Plum” was not listed on their order form. This year is the first time they have tried dealer ordering on a quarterly basis. In the past, all bike orders were placed in October for the upcoming year.

  3. BrookeNo Gravatar on January 19th, 2012 9:00am

    I wonder if modern globalization of their production (rather than global production for specific domestic markets that they’ve been doing from the beginning) has changed their production and shipping planning. It’s probably better for everyone that forecasts don’t have to be so fore.

  4. fuzzyNo Gravatar on January 19th, 2012 10:34am

    If the Yourban is not coming to the states then why are they training mechanics for it at Piaggio’s California facility?

  5. illnoiseNo Gravatar on January 19th, 2012 11:12am

    Brooke, I agree fewer models are better, especially for Piaggio (as opposed to Vespa) who just don’t have much US brand recognition. What bums me out is that Italy’s new wave of responsibility and accountability and facing reality (encapsulated nicely in the Costa wreck) seems to mean that Piaggio intends to play it safe and mimic Japanese design and try to beat Japan on price with comparable products, leaving styling and innovation behind. Smart, but boring.

    I was surprised to hear a few people say they see a reasonable amount of MP3s, I’ve literally NEVER seen one on the road in Chicago, and I’m not sure if Motoworks even sold them, I don’t remember seeing them on the floor there.

    The color issue is odd in that you’d think if they’re building US-homologated models on the line, they should be able to supply whatever colors we like, yet there seem to have always been popular colors in short supply and a glut of black/white/silver models (even dating back to the notorious abundance of ’80s “Silver Ps”) Which of course makes it clear that despite their “big plans” for America in the late 90s, they’ve never really put much effort into determining what we want. or into getting their new products to the U.S. in any kind of hurry. The conventional wisdom is that they just dump their old unwanted models on us, but you’d think if we were just a clearing house to keep older assembly lines busy, we could at least have some say about colors. Weird.

  6. illnoiseNo Gravatar on January 19th, 2012 11:43am

    Fuzzy, thanks for the tip, I appreciate more input on this from anyone in the know. Maybe my source was wrong or overreacting to a temporary break to let sales catch up. Scootervillan seems to think anything could happen, and we all know PiaggioUSA is as unpredictable as the U.S. scooter market, ha. Maybe the summer order list will feature pink PX150s and Ape Calessinos, ha.

  7. BrookeNo Gravatar on January 19th, 2012 11:44am

    I think it’s attractive to see Piaggio and Vespa as separate but considering them as a whole product line I think it’d be more useful. They have the basic (Fly), sport (Typhoon), touring (BV) and luxury segments covered in all appropriate displacements except for 50cc sport. Even in Italy this is only covered by the NRG DD still proudly rolling as a stink wheel. Filling out the entire matrix is something the can do in Europe and good for them.

    The color idea would be most interestingly address in Dealer Specials. It would be cool if the industry and our culture would evolve past instant gratification and a dealer could put out an example of their custom work or colors, take orders over the year and then do the cool customs over the winter to keep the workload stable throughout a seasonal industry. People may be OK with waiting 6 months for their perfect scooter. They could see it at a summer show, decide between then and the fall, order and pay, the work would be done over the winter and then delivered in spring. All that would require a significant time shift in terms of attitudes and accounting goals.

    just thinking out loud.

  8. scooterbasicsNo Gravatar on January 19th, 2012 12:08pm

    Techs are being trained on the Yourban at the training center (one of my techs was there last week) Hopefully seeing that model for our July Q3 orders, if not then a 2013 model released for Q1 of next year.

    I say hopefully because our shop does EXTREMELY well with the MP3 in all displacements. We are continually buying them from other dealers and from Piaggio when available. Even our Triumph customers comment on how they see them around the greater Seattle area now.

    With 20+ sold last year I hope we can find enough for the continued demand this year.

    In regards to color, I think we will see more colors announced as the year progresses. It happened last year with the matte finish GTS300 Supers as well as the Daring Plum for the GTS and will continue this year through out the line up.

  9. scooterbasicsNo Gravatar on January 19th, 2012 12:12pm

    Forgot to mention the the Yourban will be called the MP3 City for the US market as confirmed at the training center and after talking with my tech just now they are hinting at a mid to late summer release as expected.

  10. illnoiseNo Gravatar on January 19th, 2012 1:19pm

    Thanks, all. Scooterbasics, will the City 300 (exhale in relief that they ditched “yourban”) officially be the sold MP3 model from now on? That would make a lot of sense, as with the BV, the range of displacements and variations seems unnecessary and confusing. I follow scooters pretty closely and I couldn’t come close to explaining the various european MP3 models and their differences over the past few years, ha.

  11. scooterbasicsNo Gravatar on January 19th, 2012 3:07pm

    I sure hope the make it the only one and I hope they make the move to the 350. With horsepower rated in the mid 40s range it is a great combination of small enough to be effective in town but powerful enough for the highway. I don’t have confirmation on displacement at this point though.

    I honestly hope the hybrid ends up making its way here as well. I had 4 customers with deposits on them last winter when they were on our order sheets so for us there is a demand. I was told that it wasn’t coming in because the speed/range specs in electric only mode wouldn’t meet the demands of the US consumer. Whether that’s the case or not I could use a highway capable vehicle getting over 100mpg in our line up. Other than our electric motorcycles that is.

  12. canadiandudeNo Gravatar on January 20th, 2012 10:13am

    I believe Piaggio is ramping down the amount of product being shipped into North America so they can have an orderly withdrawal from the market by the end of the summer. North America is a money loser for them. Here is another tell-tale sign: the rep for the entire country of Canada has either quit or was let go. He either knew that next year’s Christmas bonus wan’t going to happen so he bailed or his contract was up and Piaggio are saving themselves a severance package.

  13. dandurstonNo Gravatar on February 7th, 2012 1:01pm

    The 350 engine seems like the sweet spot to me. The physically smaller and nicer styled MP3 City with a 350 motor would be awesome.

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