Vespa gears up for a third trip to India

Vespa LX125

The iconic Vespa is set for its third innings in India as parent Piaggio is in final stages of setting up its scooter plant at Baramati in Maharashtra. The Italian company is looking to make inroads into the fast-growing scooter market that is currently dominated by Honda and TVS. And Piaggio has big plans for the market. After launching the 125cc Vespa LX125 next year, Piaggio plans to bring in a fuller range that would include more scooters from the Vespa range apart from motorcycles from its other brands.

Piaggio, which has seven brands of scooters, motorcycles and small commercial vehicles, started its fresh two-wheeler campaign on Thursday with the launch of its premium Aprilia range of superbikes that would come in as imports and carry hefty price tags ranging between Rs 13 lakh and Rs 18 lakh. “Aprilia will give Piaggio the visibility and branding in the two-wheeler market and help us showcase our technological advancement,” Ravi Chopra, CMD of Piaggio Vehicles India, told TOI.

“Aprilia will be a niche product and we plan to sell the bikes through dealerships in cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Hyderabad, Bangalore and Chennai,” he added. Aprilia, a brand bought by Piaggio in 2004, was earlier slated to come to India in partnership with the Munjals of the Hero Group.

The company’s Baramati plant will have an initial capacity of 150,000 units per annum at an investment of e30 million. Chopra said the capacity can be increased if required. “We are gearing up for Vespa’s launch and plan to have around 70 dealerships by the end of this year. We plan to pitch it as a value-for-money offering into the market.”

Chopra said the company was looking at 100% localization for Vespa. “This will enable us to be competitive,” Chopra said. The company has already tied up component suppliers for this, and he said plans were on schedule . “The Vespa would come in around the first quarter of next year,” he added.

The automatic transmission LX 125 carries the famed Vespa design and sports a single-cylinder four-stroke engine . The success of Vespa has resulted in the formation of the Vespa World Club in 2006, which brings together 35 international Vespa clubs and 685 Italian Vespa clubs to form a platform for the Vespa cult. Produced at Piaggio’s plants in Pontedera, Italy; Vinh Phuc, Vietnam and soon at Baramati , over 17 million Vespas have been sold till