Vespa to make a comeback

Vespa, once a household name in India and also Bajaj Auto's former partner, plans to bring its Vespa scooters back on Indian roads, which it withdrew after its association with Bajaj ended. Its maker Piaggio now plans to reintroduce the popular brand, this time riding solo, reports CNBC-TV18.

The classic scooter, Vespa will be back on Indian roads by 2010 and this time and Piaggio has set a target of producing 150,000 two-wheelers per year initially.

Along with the traditional Vespa scooter, adrenaline pumping motorcycles like Moto Guzzi and Aprilia from Piaggio are also on the way.  

Roberto Colaninno, Chairman & CEO, Piaggio & CSPA, said, "We believe that in the next two years, the only possibility from Aprilia and Moto Guzzi is to import from Italy to India before we start production."

But Piaggio's plan of entering the two-wheeler market is part of a large strategy to build Asia as a major hub for its international business. (See: Piaggio two-wheelers to re-enter India; Asia - Pacific operations to be strengthened Which is why it will invest close to EUR 100 million in the region over the next two years and EUR 65 million of that in India. That investment will be to launch its second four wheeler, a sub-2-ton cargo carrier and to start manufacturing engines in partnership with Toyota Group company Daihatsu. Piaggio, which sold close to 155,000 vehicles in India last year is ramping up capacity to reach 200,000 vehicles by 2010, where hybrid vehicles may also be produced.

The Indian subsidiary is also scouting to have an assembly base abroad, which Ravi Chopra, MD, Piaggio Vehicles, says, could be in "Either in Latin America, or Africa or South East Asia. We are looking for an opportunity where we can create a facility and take advantage of low cost production."

New plans, new investments in markets like India, Vietnam and China, and trading offices in Japan and Singapore, Piaggio is moving fast to ensure that it rides on every opportunity in Asia, especially when its European markets are getting stagnant.