Piaggio plots made-in-India motorcycle, expand Motoplex network to 350

by Nilesh Wadhwa 02 Jan 2021

Even as consumer demand returns to the Indian two-wheeler market, particularly the bread-and-butter mass-market commuter motorcycle segment, there is also a growing outreach for premium products with power to boot.

In the mid-level and entry-level premium motorcycle segments, Royal Enfield and KTM respectively have carved a niche for themselves, targeting different sets of two-wheeler riders. What’s more, with the likes of Benelli,  Jawa and Honda upping the ante in some way for midsized motorcycle market leader Royal Enfield, there is yet to be a serious competitor for the KTM brand in the entry-level sports / off-roader segment.

It is just this ‘white space’ that OEMs are targeting to achieve a foothold in the Indian two-wheeler market.

In a recent interaction with Autocar Professional, Diego Graffi, MD and CEO, Piaggio Vehicles, said that the company is “starting with a completely new product portfolio for two-wheelers because we see more demand and interest for products between 150cc and 300cc in India. Our plan is to make a motorcycle in India and make it suitable not only for the Indian market but also for the global market. But this will definitely take some time – a brand-new motorcycle by 2022-23.”

While Graffi didn’t share a tentative deadline, he doesn’t see any reason to be in a hurry. “Yes, it is true that the market (300-500cc) is growing and it will continue to grow very fast, but we want to be ready with the right products in that category. We want to be there with something which is not there in the market currently and want to bring the right product.”

At present, Piaggio manufactures scooters in India under its popular Vespa and Aprilia brands, while in the motorcycle segment it is dependent on CBU offerings. However, a smaller footprint in terms of sales network also has somewhat affected the two brands’ reach. Now, the company, which recently launched the Aprilia SXR 160, aims to grow its dealerships too.

“We have 250 dealerships. All dealerships are 3S and are of the Motoplex model. We don’t use secondary network. Our target is to reach as close as 350 dealerships in 2021. It is very challenging target but we will try to reach as close as 350 dealerships,” said Graffi.

In November 2020, Piaggio sold a total of 5,798 units, up 15% year on year. Cumulative April-November 2020 sales are 31,067 units , down 36% YoY. The company currently has a .32% share of the two-wheeler market.

Full interview in Autocar Professional's December 15-2020 Anniversary Issue