Its symbol is the iconic Vespa. It is the European market leader for all things on two wheels and is the only global producer not stemming from Asia. The offering ranges from the larger Moto Guzzi and Aprilia models, which can be seen racing in MotoGP
Whether it’s two, three or four wheels, there is no area of transport that the Piaggio Group is not familiar with. Piaggio is the largest western manufacturer of two-wheeled motorised vehicles, and the leader in Europe with a market share of over 15%. It is a top name in the area of sport; Aprilia, which is owned by Piaggio, has won 54 world titles and returned to MotoGp in 2015.
Piaggio was founded in 1884 by Rinaldo Piaggio, and since 1946 the company has been a worldwide symbol for the Made in Italy industry, thanks to the iconic Vespa. More than 18 million Vespas have been manufactured over 70 years. In the last decade, however, Piaggio’s growth has become exponential, under the stewardship of Chairman and Ceo Roberto Colaninno.
In 2003, when he took control, 50,000 Ve-spas were sold across the world. In 2015, that number stood at 170,000. It has been a striking turnaround, which, with the acquisition of Aprilia and Moto Guzzi, has created an Italian group with an extraordinary portfolio of brands and products. At Roberto Colaninno’s side at the helm of Piaggio are his sons Matteo, Vice Chairman of the Group, and Michele, Managing Director and General Manager of Immsi, the holding company that controls Piaggio.
Listed on the stock market since 2006, with turnover of more than 1 billion euros in the first 9 months of 2015 (+7.7%, growth in every part of the world and in every product segment), the Piaggio Group has broken new ground for Italian and European industry in this sector. In addition to its establishments in Pontedera, Mandello del Lario, Noale and Scorzè, factories have been opened in India, in Vietnam and in China (in a joint-venture with Zongshen).
«Growth is obligatory», Roberto Colaninno underlines. «Without our development in Asia, there wouldn’t even be a Piaggio in Italy today». The focus is on local production, overcoming customs barriers, in two-wheeler markets that, like India, are worth as much as 12 times the European market. «We have globalised without de-localising», Colaninno states.
The Group’s European workforce makes up half of this global organic structure. It’s not just about Asia; the Piaggio Group is also very much present in America. There is a branch in Manhattan, and in the heart of New York Piaggio has opened one of the Motoplex multi-brand stores it is setting up in large cities across the world. In California, the Piaggio Advanced Design Center keeps tabs on style trends. Then in Cambridge, Massachusetts, there is Piaggio Fast Forward, a think tank chaired by Michele Colaninno and with an advisory board whose members, besides Roberto Colaninno, include such luminaries as Nicholas Negroponte, founder of Mit MediaLab and an executives at Google and Trimble. Thinking of the future is by no means easy, Roberto Colaninno says, yet «for a company like ours, which has reached every market and understands the behaviour and aspirations of a large portion of customers across the world, the time has come to be daring and visionary».
Meanwhile, Piaggio is moving decisively into the e-bike market with a product called the Wi-Bike. The bike is connected to the internet, controlled by a smartphone and can make use of Gps, anti-theft systems and act as a fitness guru. For history lovers, the Group’s two museums (in Pontedera for Piaggio, Vespa and Gilera; in Mandello for Moto Guzzi) each welcome 30,000 visitors a year. In 2016, the 70th anniversary of Vespa will be celebrated, as well as the 95th anniversary of Moto Guzzi, created back in 1921 in the same factory by Lake Como that continues to operate today. «An extraordinary place, the Mandello facility. We have great plans, working with the best international architects, to create a factory/museum to attract motorcyclists, fans and families».