Dave McCabe sent me the following article on New Year’s Eve and, sadly, I’m just getting around to posting it, even though it’s probably the most interesting Piaggio news since EICMA. The story, written by Adil Jal Darukhanawala, appeared in the December, 2006 issue of Bike India. I generally don’t swipe entire magazine stories, but it’s not on the web and most of us don’t have a subscription to Bike India, so here goes: (emphasis is ours, click the thumbnail to enlarge it)
Piaggio Plans new age Indian Vespa along with a slew of other two-wheelers as it prepares to re-enter the Indian bike sphere.
The Vespa, replete with classic style but new age mechanicals could be back in India as parent Piaggio gets ready to increase its presence in Indiaâ€™s booming automotive sphere, according to no less an authority than Roberto Colaninno himself. Speaking exclusively to BIKE INDIA at EICMA in Milan, Colaninno told us that India was too large to ignore and also too vibrant to be tackled with existing models. Having been absent in two-wheelers since its deal with Kanpur-based LML Limited expired a few years ago, Piaggio has concentrated on a range of utility three-wheelers and has done pretty well in that area to date.
At the Milan Show BIKE INDIA caugt up with both Roberto Colaninno and also Ravi Chopra, CEO of Piaggio Vehicles in India and they both confirmed that it was only a matter of time before the company went on to add both two as well as four wheeled vehicles in its portfolio. â€œWe will make a new Vespa for India, classic shape yes but totally new engine and technology to compete with others,â€? were the actual works of the Piaggio bossman.
Ravi Chopra concurred on this count but said that the new four-wheel drive light utility vehicle will be the first new offering from Piaggio in early 2007 and presently the company is trying to firm up plans for capacity expansion and also do the requisite research on not just the scooter segment but also the motorcycle segment.
Given that Piaggio has such bike brands as Gilera, Derbi, Moto Guzzi and Aprilia in its fold, a range of motorcycles will also do its cause no harm at all when it does kickstart its two-wheeler operations once again in the country. However, at present there are no conceivable models in the Piaggio portfolio which could work straight-on in India and Colaninno clearly stated that â€œwe will have to tailor brand new model offerings for India and we are determined to do just that.â€?
Just a year before Piaggio and LML severed links, the Nouvo Vespa was totally productionised but LML got cold feet and didn’t put it in the market. Piaggio will finally be stepping out on the scooter market on its own for the first time in its history and much will depend on the way it will move on all fronts. Given Colaninno’s success in making Piaggio and its other subsidiaries most rock solid as also Ravi Chopra’s proven acumen in India, the stage is set for one of the most respected names in the two-wheeler world to return back to India in a manner befitting its previous stature. A 12-month gestation period is expected and the countdown to that has just begun. All Vespa fans, stay tuned.
Piaggio loves hyperbole, India loves hyperbole, this could mean a lot of things, but it sure sounds promising.