Piaggio Vehicles has decided to hold the launches of two awaited Aprilia bikes that it had showcased at the 2018 Indian Auto Expo.
The Aprilia RS 150 and Tuono 150 were the two premium bikes that the Italian two and three-wheeler maker Piaggio had committed to launching in the Indian market in the segment dominated by Bajaj Auto.
But a senior company official confirmed that Piaggio does not have any concrete plans of entering the mass market premium segment (150cc and above) anytime soon. The reason behind holding back the launches is that the company could not meet the cost targets. While sources said the general market slowdown was one of the reasons behind holding back the launch, the company official however denied it.
Aprilia is one of the global high performance race bike brands owned by Piaggio. The street expected the two bikes to hit the market in the October-December quarter of 2018.
Speaking to Moneycontrol, Diego Graffi, Managing Director and CEO, Piaggio Vehicles, said, “I can confirm that the interest for the segment and what would be the market opportunity for it here in India exists. The brand will be Aprilia (and) the kind of bike will be a premium, mid-range with engine size between 150cc and 250cc. We are studying various options and are trying to find what would be the best offering at the time we will be entering the market.”
“At present, we do not have a fixed date. It has taken a little bit longer than what we had planned initially as we want to find the best trade-off between what is the expected price and what is the level of local content (in the bikes) we are introducing,” Graffi added.
The RS 150 and Tuono 150 are the scaled down versions of two of Aprilia’s internationally most popular performance bikes RSV4 and Tuono V4, respectively. Though these were to be powered by a single cylinder, 18bhp, liquid-cooled 150cc engine, they are designed and styled on the lines of their bigger siblings, both of which are powered by 1,000cc engines.
The two bikes were to compete against more than a dozen models including KTM RC 200, Yamaha R15, Yamaha Fazer, Suzuki Gixxer, Bajaj Pulsar and TVS Apache on price and product segmentation.
Graffi did not hold the slowdown in demand for two-wheelers as the reason behind Piaggio putting the launches on the backburner. “We have seen lots of new introductions in the mid-range segment from our competitors. Our strategy is driven by the fact that whenever we enter the market we (need to) do that with something that is really a breakthrough product,” he explained.
Piaggio’s strategy to garner volumes by launching mini versions of its bigger Aprilia bikes is not new. Yamaha, Suzuki, KTM, Honda and BMW have developed and launched smaller versions in India of some of their bigger bikes sold overseas. Yamaha recently launched the MT15, a naked version of the R15, which turn is inspired by the R1.Besides Aprilia Piaggio has two other two-wheeler brands on sale in India, Vespa and Moto Guzzi. With the deadline of transitioning to Bharat Stage-VI (BS-VI) fast approaching, Piaggio wants to focus on moving its entire product portfolio to BS-VI before April 1, 2020. Besides the company is looking at electrifying its three-wheelers also.