The Italian motor vehicle manufacturer, Piaggio, produces a wide range of two-wheelers and compact commercial vehicles under various brands that include Piaggio, Vespa, Aprilia and others. Founded in 1884 by Rinaldo Piaggio, the company initially produced locomotives and railway carriages. Now, the Italian manufacturing firm makes two-wheelers that are in the premium segment and their market has been growing exponentially in India. In an interaction with Sricharan R of Auto Components India, Ashish Yakhmi, Business Head, Piaggio India, spoke on the market and new launches. The Excerpts:

Q: How is your current market in India?

Yakhmi: We are on a big growth path. In the past 12 months both brands, Vespa and Aprilia, have been growing at around 70%. One of the key reasons is, the brands are very powerful and the products are world-class. Aprilia is catching up really fast, especially among the youth. It is the fastest scooter available in the market today making it more attractive for the new generation.

Both the brands are created for the youth. Vespa, though an old brand, the way it is created appeals to the young-gen. Aprillia is a clear male brand. Interestingly, a lot of riding groups have been formed on their own. Also, our expansion on the dealership network front is growing really well. With the state-of-the-art plant in Baramati, we produce the best products not only for the Indian market but also for other countries.

Q: What are the new products that the company has planned to come up with?

Yakhmi: We introduced a few products at the last auto expo. Aprilia Storm will be launched by early 2019 and we recently launched Vespa Notte. Vespa GTS will come in by the end of next year. We also have plans to launch a few other products. We will also have offerings in the 150 cc segment as well, and we are fully prepared for BSVI.

Q: Many OEMs have started manufacturing high-powered scooters. How do you see the competetion?

Yakhmi: We do not have a direct competition. We are operating in a premium space and we believe in offering more value to the customer. It might be priced at a higher bracket than others but, our products are completely different from the rest. It is more focused on high quality and is differentiated. Today, we are not in the commuter segment and this is the reason for us in not having a direct competition. The quality reflects on the pricing too.

Q: Any plan to enter the commuter segment?

Yakhmi: We will never launch products that are in the commuter segment or the low-cost segment. If a quality has to be given it comes with a certain cost. We create products for the value, so the customer has something in it. For example, the Vespa comes with full metal mono-crop body with 4 coats of paint. You do not get this in any other brand.

Q: How do you view the quality of the Indian suppliers?

Yakhmi: Both of these brands are completely indigenised. They are 100% made in India and there is nothing international in terms of components. They were all manufactured in India with international standards. This is what helps us produce for other markets also. This shows how quality is in India and we are completely satisfied.

Q: From India, to which countries do you export?

Yakhmi: We export to South America, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Bangladesh, and Nepal. A few other tie-ups are coming up.

Q: What are your plans for dealership expansion?

Yakhmi: We are expanding in a big way across the country. We are getting many requests every month to become partners. As a brand, the dealership is a good business model to open and it is expanding. This is because the customer base is growing.

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