Italian automaker Piaggio Vehicles, which makes the popular scooter Vespa, announced on Wednesday that they will continue to remain a niche two-wheeler player in the Indian market. “Wherever we are present in the world, we do not want to be perceived as the mass player. We are not interested in numbers and market share, but giving a unique vehicle preposition to buyers,” Piaggio Vehicles MD & CEO Diego Graffi said.
He added that customers who choose Vespa are not driven by cost, but by styling. However, in the space where it operates, Piaggio sees a strong growth opportunity in India. The MD noted that two-wheeler sales for Piaggio grew by 50 per cent in 2018 and the company is expecting a strong 2019, despite several challenges. “We were one of the last entrants in the Indian two-wheeler market. Now, our network is very limited and there are huge areas in India where we are not present. We want to increase the number of dealerships from 250 to 350 by the end 2019,” Graffi said.
Piaggio is also of the view that GST on two-wheelers should be brought down to 18 per cent from 28 per cent and feels that mandatory third party insurance, tighter safety norms and upcoming BS-VI standard implementation poses a challenge to the industry. On its three wheeler business, Piaggio said that they would launch new vehicles with alternate fuel technology, particularly in the mid-segment, and expand their three-wheeler dealership network. Graffi also said that the company aims to launch a fully electric three-wheeler in India by the middle of this year.
“India is one country which is investing more on electric mobility. We are preparing for this well in advance… Demand at the moment is not very big but we expect it to increase quite fast. So we plan to introduce our fully electric three-wheeler by the middle of this year,” Graffi said, adding that it will be developed in-house with some components coming from other suppliers.
On preparations for their transition to BS VI standards, Graffi said that Piaggio is ready with a fuel application mechanism for its product portfolio. “So we are planning to be ready in advance... 4-5 months ahead of the deadline (April 1, 2020). We are lining up all our investments in order to be ready definitely by the end of this year,” he said. In the April-January period of FY19, Piaggio India has seen its three-wheeler sales grow by 13 per cent to 1.4 lakh units.