Piaggio Presents...

Text: Ken Freund • Photography: Piaggio, Moto Guzzi, Aprilia, Vespa, Laurel Hungerford

Piaggio - parent company of Aprilia and Moto Guzzi motorcycles and Vespa and Piaggio motorscooters - wants to be your motorcycle and scooter supplier. To demonstrate its commitment to the U.S. market, the company recently opened the new Piaggio Group Americas (PGA) technical center in Costa Mesa, California. The 12,000 square-foot facility houses the company's press fleet, product testing and training, and provides the space and equipment needed for technical instruction of service technicians from all U.S. and Canadian dealerships and Latin American importers. Positioned near the heart of Southern California's motorcycle import and customizing industry, this location in Orange County will bring training and factory support closer to many of the company's top dealers and a large part of the customer base.
PGA's CEO Paolo Timoni was on hand to offer insight about its current business in America and the plans they have looking forward. Aprilia USA, the U.S. importer and distributor of Aprilia products, had its biggest year ever, with a 66 percent annual gain in sales for 2008. Despite a tough market, Aprilia's U.S. motorcycle sales were up more than 19 percent, while scooter sales doubled during the 12 months. PGA credits the introduction of four new motorcycles, three scooters and improvements in its dealer network for the gains. For 2009 Timoni expects to see continued sales growth, due to the new RSV4 superbike, and with over 500 dealers serving customers in North America, he said development of dealers will continue to be a focus.

The company intends to grow its business by increasing the percentage of Americans who ride scooters and motorcycles. Scooters have become a strong growth area here, and Piaggio plans to be the dominant player in this market. Their goals aren't as grandiose for motorcycles, but they have seen a tripling of market share, from about 1 to 3 percent, and hope to continue this progress.

In addition, we were able to sample some of Piaggio's current U.S. product line, which included a first ride on the new Vespa GTS 300 Super.

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For the complete article of the riding impression(s) and technical specifications, please purchase the July/August 2009 back issue.