Piaggio India, the second largest three-wheeler manufacturer after Bajaj with 35% market share, plans to launch new small commercial vehicles (SCV) this year that will replace existing models as it seeks to build a stronger presence in the segment.
Piaggio currently sells the Ape Mini in the 0.5-tonne category and the Ape Truck Plus in the 1-tonne category. In 1-2 months, its upgraded products will replace light trucks.
“The new products will have the same cabins that are used in Italy by the parent company,” said Ravi Chopra, CMD of Piaggio India.
The company has seen some reverses in the sub-2-tonne light CV (LCV) segment.
According to the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM), Piaggio’s LCV sales fell 77.5% on-year in the domestic market during April-February at a time when sales of market leader Tata Motors grew 11.8% on-year.
So, Piaggio will launch the new half-tonne LCV to compete with Tata Motors’s Ace Zip and a 1-tonne LCV to compete with the Tata Ace and the Mahindra Maxximo. It is also planning to bring in a 1.5-tonne LCV later.
The LCV segment grew 14.53% on-year in April-February, while the overall CV segment de-grew 1.51%.
Piaggio has expanded the range of its three-wheelers by launching the Ape City in the segment of vehicles that are powered by alternative fuels like CNG, LPG and petrol fuel variants.
“We are the market leaders in the diesel three-wheelers. However, we didn’t have a presence in the alternative fuel category, which will open up new markets for us where diesel vehicles are not allowed,” said Chopra.
Currently, the domestic market for alternative fuel three-wheelers, led by Bajaj Auto, is around 1.50 lakh units a year. Piaggio hopes to capture at least 20% market share in this segment.
In the wider three-wheeler market, Piaggio is keen to increase its share by 10-15% in the next 18-24 months.
The company is also hoping driving permits in states like Delhi NCR, Karnataka, Gujarat and Maharashtra will help it increase the demand for three-wheelers.
Piaggio is also looking to tap the export market with a new range of alternate fuel vehicles, a segment which sees sales of around 3 lakh units annually.