Italian two-wheeler manufacturer Piaggio, on Thursday, launched its Vespa LX 125 scooter in India. The scooter would be priced at Rs.66,661 ex-showroom Maharashtra.

Addressing a press conference here, Piaggio Vehicles Pvt. Ltd (PVPL) Chairman and Managing Director Ravi Chopra said the company was looking to create a premium category in the domestic scooter segment with this product. PVPL is a fully-owned subsidiary of Piaggio.

Vespa was first sold in India in the 1960s and the 1970s in collaboration with Bajaj Auto. After exiting that venture, Piaggio tied up with LML till 1999, when the LML-Piaggio venture ended.

“There is no premium segment in the Indian scooter market. We will not compete with the existing players, but will create a unique segment for the brand. There is no better time to be in the Indian two-wheeler scooter space with evolved consumers looking for lifestyle options that go beyond mobility,'' he said.

Piaggio will sell its retro classic, the gearless Vespa LX125 here. The launch marks the world-wide debut of a new engine developed for the Indian market.

“The new engine is eco-friendly and fuel efficient and will be produced in Piaggio's other manufacturing facilities in Europe and Asia,'' said Mr. Chopra.

Vespa will be rolled out from the Piaggio's new factory at Baramati near Pune. This facility will have an initial annual capacity of 1.50 lakh units. Piaggio has invested 30 million euro (around Rs.210 crore) for the integrated facility, making both engines and Vespa.

“We will double capacity to three lakh units annually by mid-2013 at an additional investment of 20 million euro (around Rs.140 crore). We will gradually ramp up to reach monthly production levels of 12,000 units by September-October and, thereafter, to 15,000 and 20,000 levels,'' said Mr. Chopra adding that the Indian scooter market was growing at 20 per cent CAGR and would grow in double digits in the coming years. At full capacity, Piaggio expected to garner around 10 per cent of this market, he said.

Vespa would be sold through 50 exclusive dealers across 35 Indian cities.

On the possibility of exporting Vespa, Mr. Chopra told reporters that the plant would cater primarily to the Indian market. “Indian market demand is huge and we could actually fall short in the next few years.''

Launched in 1946, globally Piaggio has sold more than 17 million units of Vespa to date. Its other brands include Aprilia, Derbi, Gilera, Moto Guzzi and Scarabeo.

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