Piaggio Vehicles, which unveiled a new series of Ape model of three-wheelers in CNG and LPG variants here, is planning to invest about Rs 100 crore by 2020 in product development and new engine technology. The company, which is the wholly-owned subsidiary of Italian auto major Piaggio group, also rolled the 2.5 millionth commercial vehicle from its sole manufacturing facility in Baramati, Maharashtra.
Besides, three-wheelers and sub-one tonne Porta 700 and one-tonner Porta 1000 trucks, the 3.80-lakh-per-annum capacity plant also produces the iconic Vespa and Aprilla brand scooters. Besides, it also has an engine manufacturing facility, which produced 1.50 lakh engines per annum.
"We are not planning to make any big investment in manufacturing assets at least in the next three to five years. The current capacity at the plants is enough to meet the future requirements," said Diego Graffi, managing director and chief executive officer, Piaggio Vehicles.
"Our investment will be in powertrain as we plan to expand and improve the current offering. So the investment will be on product development and less on manufacturing. Though we are still evaluating, it will be around Rs 100 crore from now till 2020," he added.
He said that the rollout of the 2.5 millionth commercial vehicle sets the tone for the next phase of the company's target of churning out five million vehicles per annum over a period of time, amid higher demand for two-wheelers over the next four years and rising domestic economy.
"Besides focus on alternate fuel, we have also decided to renew our product portfolio and both our cargo and passenger vehicles will undergo deep renovation in the next two to three years," he said. Graffi said that the company has seen growth across all the segment in the January-June period of the current year, which has been in line with the industry growth.
"Our strategy in the market here is to maintain our leadership in the segments where historically we are the leaders," he said, adding the company aims to increase exports volume to 15 percent from 10-12 per cent currently over the next two to three years. Piaggio will very soon start shipping vehicles from here to Sudan in addition to existing markets such as West Africa, South Asia and Middle-east Asia, said Graffi.
The launched Ape Xtra LDX and Ape Auto DX are part of the new industry-first water-cooled engine technology range, he said, adding, the new range of vehicles will meet the growing demand for commercial vehicle mobility solutions particularly suited to intra-city travel. The launch of the new vehicles, which are for both passenger as well as cargo segments, is part of the firm's plan to strengthen the alternate fuel product portfolio.
"The emphasis on alternate fuel technology is growing every day in the country and hence we introduced an improved range of alternate fuel vehicles to cater to the market's needs. The customer initiatives and improved range of alternate fuel vehicles are a part of the company's strategy to further consolidate and strengthen Piaggio's presence in the small commercial vehicle industry," said Graffi.
With the new powertrain, the firm expects to increase its market share in the alternate fuel (petrol, CNG and LPG) to a substantial level from less than 10 per cent now. Piaggio also announced a warranty and insurance program, where customers buying Ape Diesel three-wheelers will get a warranty for 42 months or 1.2 lakh kilometres, whichever is earlier).
Customers buying the Ape CNG/LPG/petrol three-wheelers will be entitled to a warranty of 36 months or 1 lakh kilometres, whichever is earlier. It is also offering each Piaggio customer buying a three-wheeler a personal accident insurance cover of Rs 1 lakh.
Ravi Chopra, chairman, Piaggio Vehicles, said he sees many new opportunities for the company in the future as the Indian market is set to gain a more predominant role in Piaggio's global business.(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed)