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Rs 20,000 drop in price, addition of disc brakes and launch of two classy 150cc bikes are among a host of measures underway at Piaggio India to take on its rivals in the scooters market.
Piaggio, the fourth largest maker of two-wheelers in the world, might proudly boast of its glorious position in the international market, but when it comes to the Indian market, the auto-giant is compelled to put in some serious hard work even to clock in a respectable sales figure. Even after spending eight months on the Indian soil, the company has nothing worth recounting better than the tepid sales of 25,000 units of Vespa LX125 till date.
Stepping into the country's blazing two-wheeler market in April last year with the sole but extremely alluring contender called as the Vespa LX125, the Italian manufacturer has failed miserably over the past several months at earning the kind of exceptional response from the Indian masses that it intended to achieve for its handsome retro-style ride. And while Piaggio India might have been ignorant enough to anticipate this approaching crisis, anyone who knows how things actually work in the Indian auto bazaar could have told way before now that the company had it coming.
In the crazy bustle of the Indian automatics market, where even big movers like Honda, Hero MotoCorp and TVS have to elbow their way to the top, sometimes needing to go with the flow while at other times resorting to shovel their own way out, the outrageous convenience with which the Italian maker priced its solitary offering at an extravagant sum of approximately Rs 80,000 and expected buyers to swarm in, going against the innate price-oriented tendency of the Indian market, was guaranteed to rebound on the company. And that's exactly what has happened.
Choosing the more affordable options over the so-called classy one offered by Piaggio India, the country's buyers easily picked up on the exorbitant cost and lack of disc brakes in the ride, very conveniently ignoring its extraordinary traits of premium-ness.
But it seems like the Italian auto-major has finally broken out of its reverie and is ready to put some real strategies into action to earn itself a place of honour in the Indian industry instead of relying purely on its international image to work some miracles for it here.
Effectively tackling the biggest hindrance first, the company has brought the acquisition cost of Vespa LX125 from the utterly unaffordable level of Rs 80,000 to a fairly acceptable mark of Rs 59,960 (ex-showroom).
While Diwali saw a significant reduction of Rs 6,000 to Rs 9,000 in the scooter's pricing leaving it standing at Rs 66,600, the last week witnessed it going down yet another level with a decrease of nearly Rs 6,000 being effected by the manufactures.
Having established a pretty widespread dealership network, not to mention a strong partnership circle, for itself in such a short duration in India, Piaggio puts this cost reduction as a means of sharing its benefits with its potential customers.
Over seven months, from April to November 2012, when the Indian scooter industry recorded a towering sales of 1.94 million units, all that Piaggio was able to achieve was a scanty figure of 25,000. But now the company is aiming high, and not just aiming, but working for it as well.
With its local production site presently holding a capacity of chucking out 1,50,000 vehicles annually, Piaggio India targets a sale of 1,00,000 units this year, planning to take the factory to its full potential by the time October is here, and claim a much larger share of the market.
Moving ahead with its plans of expansion, the manufacturer from Italy is now working on a disc brake version of Vespa, helping it tune better with its 'premium' self.
Besides that, a 'sporty' avatar of the same scooter is also on the cards, which is likely to be characterised by lively colour schemes and thrilling sticker jobs that would help it connect more easily with the young and the vivacious.
Apart from this overhauling planned out for the LX125, Piaggio India also intends to introduce two new premium models in the country quite soon, providing more momentum to its expansion campaign.
Driven by a 150cc, single-cylinder, 4-stroke engine, the upcoming Vespa S150 is the elder brother to the existing LX125.
Featuring a peak output of 11.83bhp and a top speed of 100kmph, this new scooter is going to be the fastest and the most powerful of its kind in India.
Apart from this, a semi-digital instrument console, disc brakes and telescopic shock absorbers for the front end, and fuel injection mechanism for the engine will also be seen on this new entrant.
Forming the second half of the soon-to-arrive classy duo of scooters, Typhoon 150, is yet another 150cc model from the legendary Italian company's stables.
With a 150cc, SOHC mill working under its hood, churning out a top 11.64bhp for a maximum of 11.4Nm of torque, the scooter will also get to flaunt efficient disc braking and fuel injection mechanisms.
While the prevailing Vespa LX125 version competes with Honda Activa and Dio, Hero MotoCorp Maestro, Yamaha Ray and TVS Wego, these two new contenders are likely to be pitted against the likes of Honda PCX150 among others.
As for the price and launch dates of these upcoming arrivals, nothing has been made official yet, which leaves the Indian audiences no option but to wait for the company's word and, in the meantime, hope that they would see some competitive spirit in the pricing.