Piaggio Vehicles (PVPL) is aiming to consolidate its position in the premium scooter market in India. While this sub-segment (models priced above Rs 70,000) currently sees only the Vespa brand, the company is now known to have a plan of adding yet another global brand – Aprilia (via its SR 150 scooter model) in this space by August 2016.
Piaggio officially unveiled the Aprilia SR 150 at the Auto Expo in Greater Noida on February 3, 2016, and announced that while the model will not only mark the brand's entry but it will be manufactured at its local facility in Baramati, Maharashtra.
Talking to our sister publication Autocar Professional at the expo a few days ago, Stefano Pelle, managing director, PVPL, confirmed that the Aprilia SR 150 will share its engine with the Vespa 150cc models – the SXL 150 and VXL 150 – launched last year with price tags close to Rs 90,000 and Rs 85,000 respectively. According to the company website, Piaggio currently sells a total of six scooter models under the Vespa brand including four variants in the 125cc segment and two models in the 150cc scooter category.
“Yes, the engine (single-cylinder, 150cc, 11.5bhp) is the same that goes into the Vespa 150s but it is tuned differently. The transmission is also tuned differently. It shares a lot with the Vespa models,” Pelle said.
The Aprilia SR 150 will also come equipped with a 220mm front disc brake (along with a 140mm rear drum brake), which also hints at the possibility of adding a single-channel ABS system if required in the near future.
Pelle added, “We are in the process of setting up an all-new assembly line for the Aprilia SR 150s. The first batch of production scooters will roll out in a couple of weeks from now.”
Aprilia SR 150 vs Vespa SXL 150
While Aprilia will be another brand positioned in the premium segment, how will it fare against the Vespa siblings?
“I don’t see any brand cannibalisation between Aprilia’s SR 150 and Vespa’s existing 150 models. The segments are completely different. Though they both belong to the premium segment, Vespa is more of a style statement and the Aprilia SR 150 is a sporty, stylish scooter which would certainly appeal to the youth. We will target the 18-28 years age group with the Aprilia SR 150. Now although the core target customers remain the same for the Vespa brand, it is also bought by customers into their late 20s or even 30s. That said, the Vespa models are universal and the Aprilia SR 150 is more male. This would also appeal to buyers who today use a bike and might want to use a scooter tomorrow. It’s a slim, stylish scooter with utility space for storage,” answered Pelle, clarifying that the two brands won’t overlap each other in terms of potential buyers.
In the context of pricing, he mentioned that though Aprilia could be perceived as a more premium brand than Vespa by many, the pricing of the SR 150 could be competitive.
New Motoplex outlets planned in India
The company is planning to soon open at least three new Motoplex outlets across South India in Hyderabad, Kochi and Chennai.
“India is a key growth market for us and to grow here, step one has to be ready with a reasonable distribution network across the country. By the time the Aprilia SR 150 will hit the roads, the network would have considerably grown. At the same time the Motoplex stores will grow. We have three more Motoplex outlets lined up in the next 2-3 months. We will set up new stores across Hyderabad, Kochi and Chennai. The western and southern markets are the best scooter markets and hence as a potential strategy we will cover these two regions first. We will expand to the rest of India as well. Vespa, on the other hand, continues to be a priority for us as that is our main brand,” said Pelle.
Besides the Motoplex stores, the company currently has around 80 retail outlets. It plans to increase this to 100-105 outlets by August 2016, just in time for the Aprilia's commercial rollout.
The new incoming model is said to have received an overwhelming response from visitors at Auto Expo 2016.
Amit Panday (Autocar Professional)