Another two-wheeler maker, Bajaj Auto, is also looking at entering into the small car space around 2012. It recently said that its four-wheeler paltform will draw synergy from three-wheelers.
Talking to FE, Ravi Chopra, chairman and managing director, Piaggio Vehicles, said, The demand for small cars will be large in the densely populated countries and cities. These cars will also will be able to travel to places where the road infrastructre is not the best. He added that the application movement version of the NT3 will be future Ape, its light commercial vehicle. The small car concept is based on the Vespa and Ape architecture, he said.
Last year, the company had showcased its NT3 at Milan Motorcycle Show. The 2.4 metrr long NT3 is expected to have a 200 cc and a 300 cc engine option, in addition to a hybrid and electric variant as well. The NT3 is expected to attain a maximum speed of 80 km per hour with the 300 cc engine and 60 km per hour with the 200 cc engine. This is in sync with the Italian makers strategy for the Asian region, where it aims to reach revenues of euro 1 billion by 2014.
The company is making significant investments in markets like Vietnam and India to expand manufacturing and sales operations in these markets. Between 2011-14, Piaggio will be making investments of around euro 150 million in the region. In India, the company will be putting in euro 90 million to finance growth in both the commercial vehicles and the two-wheeler businesses. It is making investments of euro 60 million in engine plant at Baramati plant in Maharashtra and euro 30 million has been spent on the Vespa production facility that too will come up at Baramati. The company will be launching Vespa brand of scooter in the first quarter of 2012.
Our investments in Baramati plant are targetted towards preparing for future, said Chopra. He added, The engine facility is set up with the idea that the company can engineer its own four-wheeler engines and to create a hub for these diesel engines that can cater to Piaggios global requirements. The company produces 1 litre and 1.2 litre two-cylinder diesel engine at Baramati and will be making Vespa engines as well at the plant. Considering that the engine options on the NT3 are from the Piaggio two-wheeler stable, the company will not find it difficult to produce out of India in the near future, said an auto analyst.