Company looking at launching a mass market scooter in the country.
With the growing popularity of Vespa LX-125, a retro styled gearless scooter, Piaggio has tasted success. According to company Chairman and MD, Ravi Chopra, they currently have a total of 8,500 units in retail sales and bookings for the scooter. Moreover, the company is hoping to achieve about 40,000 units by the end of this year. This might sound like decent numbers for their début 125cc scooter, positioned at the top of the pie with a hefty price tag of Rs 74,500 (OT, Pune). But the company has bigger plans for India.
According to sources, the company is aiming at the bread-and-butter segment of many two-wheeler manufacturers like Honda, Mahindra and Suzuki, as it is now working on a new mass market scooter. The Rs 50,000-to-Rs 55,000 scooter segment is growing at neck-breaking pace, 24.5 % in 2011-12 to be precise, and the Italian brand wants to be present here to cash on it. To develop a new, India specific model would take them about a year or a year-and-a-half, and so we hope to see the scooter being launched around Diwali, late next year.
But the big challenge here would be to make sure not to cannibalise on the Vespa LX-125, as the new model would also be a twist-and-go gearless scooter with a similar 110cc-125cc engine. To avoid it, Piaggio will not be launching it a with Vespa badge and is considering to introduce an altogether new sub-brand for its inexpensive products line-up. This will help Vespa maintain its current premium status among scooters. The group also owns two other two-wheeler brands, Gilera and Scarabeo, which it might consider for this task.
The company will be investing Rs 150 crore to double the capacity at the Baramati plant, so that in 2014 it can produce about 20,000 units a month. At the same time, network and distribution will be ramped up to close to 100 dealerships by the end of the year, from the existing 48 in 35 cities.
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