The Piaggio Group, one of the largest European manufacturers of two-wheelers and commercial vehicles with a presence in India, is mulling over developing and introducing mid-capacity motorcycles under its global brand – Aprilia – in the Indian market.
The 1000cc RSV4, the flagship Aprilia superbike globally, is currently available on sale in India as a CBU. Piaggio's Aprilia roadmap includes developing all-new, mid-capacity motorcycles for India and emerging markets.
The Pontedera-based company’s direction is aligned with the latest market developments that include the other European two-wheeler companies foraying into the affordable motorcycle segments in the recent past with an aim to target growth in the developed and developing economies such as India and similar markets.
For example, KTM AG, which has raced ahead of BMW Motorrad, with help of its association with India’s Bajaj Auto, has recorded impressive global sales of its small- and mid-capacity motorcycles (125cc, 200cc, 250cc, 375cc models). These KTM models are manufactured at Bajaj Auto’s Chakan plant and are exported to several countries including the European and American markets.
Similarly, BMW Motorrad has recently forayed into the entry-level mid-capacity segment under its alliance with India’s TVS Motor Company. TVS currently manufactures the BMW G 310 R at its Hosur plant and ships it back to Europe. The model is expected be launched in India soon marking BMW Motorrad’s foray into the fast growing segment.
Now, Piaggio too appears to be contemplating its plans on similar lines under its young brand Aprilia.
Aprilia and aggressive pricing
The Aprilia brand has had a successful reception in India until now, all thanks to its distinct and racy-looking 150cc premium scooter models – the SR 150 (pictured above) and the SR 150 Race. The local manufacturing of these models at the company’s plant in Baramati (Maharashtra) has ably contributed to its aggressive pricing, given that these models belong to the 150cc scooter category.
The recent rollout of the Aprilia SR 125 scooter at the Delhi Auto Expo (pictured above) is aimed at further boosting the sales under this sporty brand besides exposing the market to newer features including fresh design language, bigger wheels, and others.
Meanwhile, on the motorcycle front, Aprilia is present only in the superbike segment with its CBU models (completely built units imported into India) available for sale in select stores across India. The portfolio of these CBU motorcycles include the four-cylinder, liquid-cooled, 1000cc RSV4 variants, the four-cylinder, 1100cc Tuono V4, the V-twin, 1200cc Caponord 1200 variants among others.
The top company management in India appears to have taken note of the potential mid-capacity market for Aprilia motorcycles in India and similar markets worldwide. It is understood that the company is not only evaluating but also preparing the ecosystem for the local production of motorcycles badged under its premium Aprilia brand.
High on localisation
Diego Graffi, who took over as the new CEO and MD of the India operations at Piaggio Vehicles in June 2017, finds the 250cc-400cc motorcycles as the most interesting category.
Diego Graffi: '250cc-400cc motorcycles is the most interesting category. A lot of players are shaping up products or thinking of that category for India. So, definitely we are looking at that."
Speaking to Autocar Professional in this context recently, he said, “Apart from the superbike segment, we are not present in any other motorcycle category in India at the moment. In my personal view, the 250cc-400cc motorcycle is the most interesting category. You see that a lot of players are shaping up products or thinking of that category for the India market. So, definitely we are looking at that as we have a high level of interest not only in the India market but in other global markets too. If you go to South Asian markets, and also in Europe, you will see a general trend that bike makers are going after the midsize motorcycle category.”
Graffi is absolutely clear that whenever his company plans to foray in this segment in India, it will be on the back of local production of these motorcycles. “Whenever we plan to enter the market with these products (mid-capacity motorcycles), we will look at full localisation because we have to keep the prices affordable here,” he added.
Aprilia RS 150 & Tuono 150 showcased at Auto Expo
Piaggio had recently showcased a few of its global propositions at the Delhi Auto Expo last month. These included the all-new 150cc Aprilia motorcycles, which were displayed to gather generic feedback from the motorcyclists and enthusiasts who visited them at the mega event.
Speaking on this, Graffi said, “Being a player in India with a brand like Aprilia, it is unavoidable. I mean sooner or later you will start thinking about a sporty motorbike. We decided to display them at the Auto Expo. Currently they are prototypes, completely designed and industrialised in-house at Piaggio in Italy.”
“These 150cc Aprilia bikes are built following the spirit and fun-to-ride philosophy of the brand. We feel that these models (150cc Aprilia bikes) can be highly suitable for India and similar markets. So we are now doing our preliminary investigation to study the prospects (of small/mid-capacity bikes) in this market. A lot of work is going on in the backend on the motorcycle segment,” he added.
“If we plan to bring the entry-level motorbikes to India, they will come under the Aprilia brand and will be in two versions. More importantly, whenever we enter into this category, it will be for India and will be made in India,” said Graffi, confirming the expanding roadmap for the Aprilia brand in India (and similar markets) in the near future.
Boom time for midsize motorcycles in India