Italian automaker Piaggio, whose legendary Vespa scooter is now part of India’s urban scene, is hitting the high road with its premium superbikes.

The company, which has in its fold the superbike brands Moto Guzzi and Aprilia,, rolled out some models a few months ago. The enthusiasm of the upwardly-mobile young Indians has encouraged Piaggio to open four of its Motoplex concept showrooms in India to showcase the expensive, giant bikes.

“The market for superbikes is fast expanding in India,” says Stefano Pelle, Piaggio Vehicles Pvt Ltd’s Managing Director. “Until 10 years ago, there had been only the Royal Enfield motorcycles, but in the past couple of years Harley Davidson, Triumph and others have entered the market.” It was then Piaggio decided to bring in its Moto Guzzi and Aprilia brands.

Greater bike experience

“The young, affluent bike enthusiasts are looking for the greater bike experience that our models can provide,” Pelle, who was in Kochi to open the fourth Motoplex, told BusinessLine . Of the automaker’s four showrooms, three are in the South. This was because of the access to the two bike racing tracks at Chennai and Coimbatore, Pelle pointed out.

Pelle, who has been in India on and off since 1998 representing various Italian multinationals, is among the crop of European executives who arrived in the country in the wake of the opening up of the economy, and made it good here. He married an Indian (from Kannur, Kerala) and built a home in Goa. A Roman by birth, he considers India his country of adoption and talks of his Indian experience in the semi-autobiographical book When Not in Rome, Don’t Do as the Romans Do .

Pelle moved to Piaggio India two years ago. Piaggio had by then established its position in the three-wheeler commercial vehicles segment with its mass-marketed Ape brand. But, in the motorcycle segment, it is not eyeing the mass market.

Niche market

“We are focussing on the niche market of premium superbikes, not the mass market,” Pelle said. The target clients are the young, successful entrepreneurs in the 25-40 age group and those from the wealthy families who love to show off. The ex-showroom price of Aprilia RSV4RF is ₹24. 36 lakh; of Moto Guzzi Audace ₹22.09 lakh; of Aprilia SRV850 ₹14.89 lakh; and of Moto Guzzi California ₹21.59 lakh.

“We have intentionally kept the price of Vespa scooter high to keep it in a niche market,” Pelle said. Vespa would launch its 300 cc scooters in India soon, which would be priced high too.

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