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Piaggio bikes to compete with Harley, Enfield next year

Swaraj Baggonkar/Mumbai 06 Dec 12 | 12:20 AM

Italian two-wheeler maker Piaggio is gearing up to launch its next line of products, including superbikes and cruisers, in India after the success of the Vespa brand, launched a few months ago.

The European brand, which has carved out a space in the three- and four-wheeler categories in India over the past several years, is now readying itself for a broader play in the fiercely competitive two-wheeler segment. While the Vespa, an iconic premium scooter, is already on sale in India, the company is finalising the introduction of cruiser brand, Moto Guzzi, while also expanding its product base of the superbike brand Aprilia.

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At least four of the eight two-wheelers brands, which Piaggio holds internationally, would be available in India by the end of next year. While Piaggio would compete at the entry level of the segment, Vespa would continue to remain at the premium end.

Ravi Chopra, chairman and managing director, Piaggio Vehicles, said, "We are evaluating the right time for the launch of products following the Vespa. Piaggio has a reservoir of brands and products. We are trying to see how we can customise those products to Indian needs. Some time after the second half of 2013, we will see the launches."

Moto Guzzi would compete against brands like Harley Davidson, Royal Enfield and Triumph, Aprilia would battle for space against premium products of Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki, BMW, Kawasaki, KTM, among others.

The company hopes to pull in crowds by showcasing its technology by launching high-end motorcycle brands and products, which would be sold in India through the import route. The company is also not averse to customising the premium products to suit Indian tastes.

"Our focus today (for future launches) is the scooter segment, which will be under the Piaggio brand (in the low-end segment). To showcase our technology, we are bringing superbikes to India too. The market is small, but robust and growing. Moto Guzzi, which is a world-famous cruiser brand, will also make its way to India", added Chopra.

Piaggio has started with one outlet in Pune for the Aprilia brand, which has sold 15-20 machines till date. The company is contemplating three-four more outlets in key locations like Gurgaon, Hyderabad, Bangalore for the expanding Aprilia's retail reach.

According to Chopra, Indians collectively bought 2,300 superbikes last year, with engine capacities of 800cc and above. Though the number is small compared to some of the developed markets in the West or China, higher disposable incomes and the desire to own aspirational products is expected to drive demand for superbikes in India in the near future.

The domestic market is rapidly moving up the value chain with more manufacturers planning products having engine capacity of more than 200cc. Companies such as Bajaj Auto, Hero MotoCorp, KTM, Honda and Yamaha are planning multiple products in this category.

Other players, including Harley Davidson and Ducati, have enhanced their product line-up while Triumph and Polaris are contemplating a launch in India. Piaggio would launch a range of scooters competing against Honda, Hero, Yamaha and Suzuki starting next year.

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