Aprilia, the performance bike brand from the house of Piaggio, will enter the 250-300cc motorcycle segment in the next three years to join a host of competing brands, a top company official has confirmed.
Currently, Aprilia does not have bikes in the 250cc-300cc category. In all probability, India could become a lead country in the development of such a bike, much like the development and launch of the SR 125 scooter, the first scooter under the Aprilia brand, which was launched in India a few years ago.
The Italian superbike brand is known for performance bikes, having won several international racing championship titles, including MotoGP.
Affordable premium segment growing
Talking to Moneycontrol, Diego Graffi, chairman and managing director, Piaggio Vehicles, said that the ‘affordable premium’ segment of motorcycles, having engines up to 350cc has been growing favourably and would most likely become a hunting ground for the company.
The same segment saw Japanese heavyweight Honda relaunch itself with the H’ness CB350, less than two weeks ago. The new Honda model is set to take on the unchallenged dominance of Eicher Motors
-controlled Royal Enfield.
Piaggio is present in India’s two-wheeler space only with scooters through the Vespa and Aprilia brands. Aprilia also sells 1,000cc superbikes in India in limited numbers. Piaggio targeted entering the 150cc bike space using the Aprilia brand to take on the segment leader Pulsar made by Bajaj Auto
showcased at 2018 Auto Expo.
Piaggio even showcased a couple of Aprilia bikes powered by 150cc engines at the 2018 Auto Expo, and promised to launch them later the same year. But Piaggio developed cold feet following the slowdown in demand, which started in 2018 and spilled over to 2019.
“The response we got for the twin 150cc bikes at the 2018 Auto Expo was very positive. And that gave us the confidence that entering the mid-range motorbike segment with the Aprilia brand in India makes a lot of sense. But the growth in the 150cc segment has not been as steep as we expected. This made us to look at other opportunities,” said Graffi.
The RS 150 and Tuono 150 were 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.
“We are instead looking at a higher 250-300cc segment. In the next three years, the Indian market will see a motorcycle under the Aprilia brand. We are taking our time because we want to be coherent with our mission and profile, which is to be different and premium and deliver a performance which is not seen in that segment and all this takes time but the product will come,” added Graffi.
During FY20, Piaggio sold 62,638 two-wheelers in India, a fall of nearly 20 percent compared to FY19. The company had a market share of 0.35 percent in the domestic market, as per data shared by the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers.
“We do not want to chase sales numbers. We would rather deliver on the promise of what Aprilia stands for, which is performance,” added Graffi.