Piaggio Vehicles Private Limited, Pioneer of 3-Wheeler Technology, Innovating in India Since 1999
The Indian 3-wheeler industry is a crucial part of the commercial vehicle industry in India offering self-employment to a very significant number of people in diverse geographies across the country. Syncopating smoothly with the rapid pace of change in the industry since its inception, Piaggio, a 100% owned subsidiary of the Italian major Piaggio Group, is responsible for the well-recognised commercial vehicle brand Ape’ and the largest range of products in three-wheeler pace in India.
In 1999, with the creation of the one of the best TCOs’ under the Ape’ brand; which represents a hardworking and efficient bee. Piaggio introduced itself in the Indian market prepared for an ideal last-mile transportation solution two decades back. Today, the fuel agnostic brand is present in both the passenger and the cargo segment; with variants in petrol, diesel, CNG, LPG and Electric vehicles, and continues to evolve.
The catapult of industry’s first electric three-wheeler with swappable battery technology, Piaggio sticks to its status of fast adapters as they plan to come up with the fixed battery vehicles in the near future. The market leaders in both 3-wheeler cargo and 3-wheeler diesel passenger for more than a decade now with the Ape’ brand have top of the mind recall in this segment.
Piaggio offering a range of commercial vehicles with best earn-ability, mileage, and lowest maintenance in its category. And being a pioneer in offering a 42 months super warranty to the customers on the diesel vehicle category. And 36 months in alternative fuel category; has earned its status of the ‘Brand Of The Year 2020’ with nearly 3mn satisfied customers.
India, Not an Unfamiliar Country
Diego Graffi, Chairman and MD, Piaggio Vehicles Pvt Ltd, India, is responsible for the overall growth; business expansion, and profitability of the company. While it was only three years back when he was named in charge of India operations. Diego was familiar with the country since he joined Piaggio in 2005.
Facing the challenges that rooted from his background of hard-core procurement experience, the leader was responsible for building the local vendor base in India for both the local and export markets. His frequent visits formed good relationships with the local vendors and the support by a good team of professionals helped him. His good eye for detail further helped in understanding things in the right perspective. Therefore, the challenges of shifting the entire product range from BS-IV to BS-VI; which has never been attempted worldwide in this category was ensured in the shortest possible time.
Empowering The Heart of the Nation, Auto-Drivers
Driven with the core belief of offering a wide range of high-quality products traversing into total satisfaction of the customer by maintaining strong business ethics, the PVPL team believes in continuous improvement of processes focused on total quality products, resource optimization to bring in cost-effectiveness. There is a clarity on transparency, the honesty of purpose, & benefit to both the society & their stakeholders.
Simultaneously, Piaggio’s strong R&D teams are always at work focusing on the development and designing of the well-suited customer’s need-based products. BSVI technology used by PVPL is extremely sophisticated because of various norms it meets, be it CO2, NOX or any other. Due to the R&D teams, both at the headquarter in Italy and India, and the experience of years in power-train, engine technology and vehicle architecture, they were able to adapt to the needs of the market.
Piaggio’s diesel range boasts of a completely new power pack with a 599CC engine pumping out 7kw power and 23.5 Nm torque. The engine along with a 5-speed gearbox and new aluminium clutch considerably increases the load-carrying capability, improves drivability and enables faster trip turnaround. Similarly, the alternate fuel range has been fitted with one of the most refined drive-trains available in the industry with a 230CC 3-valve hi-tech engine with technology from Piaggio.
As far as electric mobility is concerned, the Ape E-City is the first electric three-wheeler in India; to offer a battery swapping solution. Battery swapping solutions can work well for the Indian market. Vehicle manufacturers in Asia are fast embracing battery swapping as it holds immense potential. They have developed both swappable & fixed battery technology solutions to serve the varied needs of the customer.
Surmounting The 2020 Pandemic Challenges
The auto industry is going through a challenging phase since the last 18 months and it has become very acute in the last 5 months due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The CV sector is one of the most affected areas due to the epidemic & economic slowdown. The 3-wheeler segment in the commercial vehicle segment suffered and the passenger segment is hanging by a thread., To overcome this Piaggio is expanding the customer reach there both in terms of distribution and communication in their strong rural areas.
The organization must come back to normalcy at the earliest. They, at an organizational level, are working both on the cost and revenue aspect to ensure this. Besides, on the strategic aspect, they are working to strengthen their product portfolio and market connect.
Becoming The Best Behind the Wheel
People aren’t born with leadership skills. Sharpening the saw is the keyword for leadership skills, A leader is meant to be more than a position or being demanding, it demands being decisive and dependable. An effective leader is the one with the ability to handle the role and responsibilities which evolve, dynamic situations, and change.
Diego’s definition of becoming a better leader includes, “One needs to evolve, know your strengths and weaknesses, be a strong decision-maker, know how to delegate, settle into the role and stay focused, be good support and motivator to your team. A piece of advice I would like to share with aspiring leaders, have a vision, believe in yourself, know your goals and customers, spend wisely and last but not least, build a great team.”
Proud Achievements & Ensuring Consistent Profitability
Grateful to have worked in a dynamic and ever-growing nation like India. Diego admits to having learnt from the country and his current role. He said, “I am proud of the milestones we have reached in India operations in the past three years. With almost 30 lakhs vehicles sold in commercial vehicles, 40+ products/variants launched in the last couple of years. We have become a brand with the largest range in various fuel segments. One of the fastest to introduce the BS-VI range, have introduced a range of 2 wheelers with good market acceptance”. They have been largely one of the most consistent and profitable in the group.”
Piaggio is comfortable stating that they will be floating well towards the future in both; commercial vehicle and 2-wheeler segments. As they are progressively increasing revenues, volumes and market shares across segments. Able to build a strong brand recall across segments. Piaggio has gained the advantage of stronger market standing and easier consumer acceptance for new products/technologies.
Engineering Path to Auto Drivers’ Heart
Piaggio has always been a responsible corporate citizen in India. In 2020, Piaggio stepped forward to uplift the underprivileged while the country was hit by the coronavirus Pandemic. These initiatives included the distribution of 11000 plus ration kits to the families of needy auto drivers. Helping local authorities in Baramati (where Piaggio’s India plant is established); in setting up an isolation centre for COVID-19 patients at the Baramati government hospital. In April, they announced the extension of the warranty and free service period for small commercial vehicles by two months.
Helping the heroes of the pandemic, the health workers and to create awareness regarding COVID-19. PVPL in association with an NGO ‘United Way Mumbai’ helped with one month’s infrastructure support to Pune’s Sassoon Government hospital. Under this initiative, they provided Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Kits and installed sanitization infrastructure at the hospital.
Recently, Piaggio announced a scholarship program aimed at empowering the children of underprivileged auto-rickshaw drivers; who couldn’t pursue higher education due to financial constraints. This initiative realizes wishes of eligible children wanting to pursue education post 10th or 12th standard. By offering support up to 80% of the yearly course fees of selected students; who have enrolled for full time technical or vocational courses after grade 10th/12th.