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BIKELAND > FORUMS > APRILIA > Thread: You WILL Ride a Scooter, and it WILL be a Piaggio NEW TOPIC NEW POLL POST REPLY
Staff


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posted April 10, 2009 12:38 AM        Edited By: Staff on 13 Apr 2009 19:11
You WILL Ride a Scooter, and it WILL be a Piaggio

Piaggio USA Announces Plan for Domination of USA Scooter Market

By Gabe Ets-Hokin

Here’s a number to blow your mind:
20 million scooters.

That's the number of U.S. commuters Piaggio USA's boss, Paolo Timoni claims
will be on scooters if the American population rides in the same proportions
as their European brethren.

“Ha!” I can hear you say. “We’re not riding scooters! They're gay, smell funny and make your ass look fat. It’ll never happen!”

Perhaps, but if you’re right, it won’t be because a certain Italian manufacturer didn’t do everything in its power to make scooters – and motorcycles – a palatable transportation choice for American commuters. That’s what I found out during a Piaggio media day at its brand-new Technical Center in Costa Mesa, California. There, Piaggio Group Americas CEO and President Paolo Timoni unveiled a new plan for aggressively growing the scooter market.

There are some serious problems with the North American market for scooters and motorcycles. According to Timoni, total unit sales peaked in 2006, but the problem isn’t exactly the slumping economy – although that surely doesn’t help. No, the problem comes when the ratio of sales numbers to total users is too high: eight million motorcyclists are buying about a million bikes a year. Those bikes, scooters and motorcycles alike, are being used for recreation, so like boats, golf equipment or other recreational products, “clearly we operate in a niche market.” And I would add that those recreational motorcyclists are predominantly aging Baby Boomers, who, let’s face it, won’t live forever, no matter how much fiber they eat or Pilates they do.


A glimmer of hope is the use of two- (or maybe three-) wheelers as transportation. As most other market segments, like sportbikes, cruisers and off-road shrink, scooters boast massive sales growth. In 2000, the major manufacturers (the Motorcycle Industry Council – MIC – only keeps sales figures for major manufacturers, ignoring the torrent of mainland Chinese scooter builders) sold between 13 and 14,000 scooters. In 2008, that number was 78,000, 220,000 if all manufacturers were included, according to Timoni. His inference is that the industry is shifting from recreation to transportation, spurred by rising fuel prices and urban congestion. After all, a family sedan costs $650 a month when everything is totaled up, where a scooter can be a breezy $150 a month to own. By ditching the second (or third) car –Timoli tells us 70% of U.S. households have two or more cars – a family can save $6000 a year. Oh, and most importantly, it’s much more fun to get to work on two (or three) wheels than four.

There are obstacles to this, of course. First off, the USA isn’t Europe. U.S. cities aren’t for the most part very moto-friendly, with little or no motorcycle parking and hostile traffic conditions. Also, lane-sharing is illegal in every state except California (although there is a bill in the Texas legislature to legalize it), and most states require a specialized license to operate even a small (150cc or less) scoot. But despite these obstacles, Timoni feels “the scooter market has the potential to grow as large as Europe’s.”

Wha’? Since between 4 and 10 percent of Europeans get to work on a scooter, that would translate into something like 20 million Americans buying around 1.5 million scooters a year, a massive increase of the current market. To make that happen, Timoni describes a three-part process: to get the message about using scoots and motorcycles as transport as often as possible, to work with local, State and Federal authorities to allow lane-splitting, streamline licensing laws and train automobile drivers to not run us over. The first part of the plan is already in motion: Vespa has been plugging its “Vespanomics” program for a while now, touting the ability of scooters to use less fuel, emit less carbon and reduce traffic congestion.

Still, these are big words from a tiny player in the industry, with just 3 percent of the motorcycle market (although Timoni claims a giant 36% of all the scooter dollars spent). But Piaggio Group Americas has expanded rapidly, tripling its workforce in the four years since it was established and growing its dealer network to 628 outlets. Showing off the latest facility, the National Technical Center, was the point of the media day. The 12,000 square-foot space has offices for the tech support, warranty, training and other staff as well as giving technicians access to the 12-month riding season Southern California has to offer. But most importantly to us moto-journos, who make a living by riding around on other people’s bikes while wearing free stuff, the press fleet is also kept in the Tech Center’s garage.



Piaggio Americas may not sell a lot of units compared to a bigger company, but it does offer a bewildering array of models, and all of them were available for the gathered media to ride. In addition to Piaggio scooters, Piaggio Americas also distributes Aprilia, Moto Guzzi and Vespa, with no fewer than 38 different models. I took advantage of the day to sample as many of these as possible.

My hour of test-riding (I know, but that’s all the time they gave us) showed a diverse cross-section of two and three-wheeled products. I first went out on Aprilia’s Dorsoduro, a supermoto version of the Shiver 750 standard. I found a bike that had a smooth and torquey motor, very good suspension, a comfortable seating position, and a loony streetfighter nature that seemed to benefit from Aprilia’s experience with building and racing its SXV V-Twin supermoto, a bike that was every bit as fun as Ducati’s Hypermotard. I also sampled the Moto Guzzi Griso 8V, a muscular ride with tons of power and a hulking, sophisticated charm that is Guzzi’s answer to the power cruiser.

I also got to ride the three-wheeled Piaggio MP3 for the first time. (Click here to read Bikeland's review of the MP3) The bizarre leaning twin-wheel front end took about a block to get used to, as the entire bike feels much like any other (very heavy) scooter at speed, except it could brake very hard and was so stable in turns it felt like it could do anything. A last ride on the new Vespa GTS 300 Super – Vespa’s biggest, fastest scooter yet – revealed traditional (that is, nervous-feeling but quick-steering) Vespa handling manners, good brakes and surprising midrange grunt. The guy in Quadrophenia would never ride one of these off a cliff.

Is bombarding consumers with choices and seeing what sticks the way to market domination? A more conservative approach may be to sell a small number of models to an established market and slowly grow sales.

But the Piaggio staff is hardly a pack of glue-huffing maniacs; they include plenty of industry veterans as well as Timoli, who came from the financial services industry before being hired by Piaggio after that company was reorganized in 2004. They have a solid product range as well as the resources and commitment from their parent company. Will it be enough to overcome the American obsession with solo car commuting? Maybe not with gas in the $2-a-gallon range. But Piaggio is prepared to wait, and $6 gas and increasing density in America’s inner cities may make Timoni’s dream of 20 million scooterists a reality.



Source: Bikeland.org
Photos: Laurel Hungerford Photography & Piaggio



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bigdtd


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Interceptors
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posted April 10, 2009 01:25 AM        
i like my yamaha zuma thankyou
____________
2006 Black ZX-14,6 inches over,16/42, flies out,BMC Street Filter,Brock's Street Meg,Brock's Radial Mount Strap,PClll with Race map,Dynojet LCD w/Techmount, ZX-14 fender eliminator,Pilot Power2CTs,Speedohealer,Pazzo Levers,Cox Radiator Guard, Garmin Nuvi 265WT

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zxbob


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posted April 10, 2009 02:18 AM        
I just sold my turbo bike so I can buy 2 !

Bob
____________
Good parts aint cheap and cheap parts aint good !

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Shane661


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posted April 10, 2009 02:22 AM        
You will stop writing articles and fix the pm system.


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Stuart Racing


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N.H.R.A . Dragracing.
Posts: 999
posted April 10, 2009 02:57 AM        
quote:
i like my yamaha zuma thankyou


Same here....I went ahead and put a 70cc kit in it, race pipe, carbon fiber reeds,reworked clutch.....Tops out at 60 mph on a scooter....I had too much time on my hands at one time...But I see these new ones around town,(college town) all over the place...Couple o bucks to fill up and your good for a week...
____________
Life in the Fast Lane..........

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Old Guy


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posted April 10, 2009 03:08 AM        
quote:
You will stop writing articles and fix the pm system.




fixing the PM aint nearly as cool as being able to go to events like scooter shows!

____________
Living the good life...,
On a XZ !!!!!
Tsukigi stainless full system
pcIII w/custom map
NO freakin flies!!
GP suspension forks
Penske rear shock
Rich's custom seat
And a whole bunch of other stuff.

97 zx6r full race bike with all the
good stuff

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Shane661


Needs a life
Posts: 11494
posted April 10, 2009 03:18 AM        
quote:
quote:
You will stop writing articles and fix the pm system.




fixing the PM aint nearly as cool as being able to go to events like scooter shows!



Yeah, who needs these dumb old board members when you've got all these events to go to?


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Beondwacko


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posted April 10, 2009 04:38 AM        
Imagine how tiny the turbo would be for a 50cc !!!
____________
08' Atomic Silver, PCIII, Brocks pipe,BMC, -1, strapped front end

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SteveWFL


Moderator
Posts: 27916
posted April 10, 2009 04:54 AM        
scooters are a total blast, but around my neighborhood its Aprilia and scooters like bigdtd's Yamaha.. haven't ridden a "Piaggio" yet!
____________
2010 Concours14
'08 R1 YAMAHA
ZX14 gone!
CBR600RR track bike

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Fifty Thousand


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Lovin My Family.
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posted April 10, 2009 05:47 AM        
I need 2....

-1 for each ass cheek
____________


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smokehouse4444


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posted April 10, 2009 06:03 AM        Edited By: smokehouse4444 on 10 Apr 2009 20:13
If you've never been to Europe, you're missing something seeing people ride these things. I mean crazy. Zipping in and out of cars, bouncing off of buses, it's wild...and they can RIDE.
____________
2008 Atomic Silver ZX-14, Brock's this and that, some other stuff, 260 in full gear, powered by Cheese
2005 Ducati 999 with all the goodies

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MasterBlaster


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posted April 10, 2009 06:10 AM        
Were i to go scooter it would probably be the Burgman. No problem with keeping up with traffic on that one.
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Stalwart


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How's that change workin' out?
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posted April 10, 2009 06:16 AM        
Yeah, I'll start riding one of them when Blue and FBA move in together and start fucking each other in da
____________
Stuart
________________________________
I'm tired of this President apologizing for us and spending us in to indentured servitude. FUCK YOU Barry!

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Shogun


Expert Class
Posts: 274
posted April 10, 2009 06:28 AM        
Riding a scooter is like screwing a fat chick. A lot of fun but don't let your friends find out about it!
____________
06 ZX14 - Arata exhaust, PC III, McIntosh Ext swingarm, Vortex lowering links, Racetech rear shock, Marc wheels, To be continued...

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fish_antlers


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The Truth is Out There
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posted April 10, 2009 08:33 AM        
quote:
You will stop writing articles and fix the pm system.





gabe has nuthin to do with the PM system... that's freek's dept.
____________
What business is it of yours where I'm from, Friendo?


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TedG


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posted April 10, 2009 08:36 AM        
A good friend of mine is the Vespa dealer here and I have ridden a few of them and they are a hoot to ride. Forget about going fast, just putting around is plain fun.
____________
Ted
2000 Green ZX12 sold
The fast color!!
Green 2005 ZX10R
2009 Concours Black ABS

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SteveWFL


Moderator
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posted April 10, 2009 08:36 AM        
Gabe excluded the fact this product performs better than the 1200 Hardly-Ableson featured in the recent Bikeland review
____________
2010 Concours14
'08 R1 YAMAHA
ZX14 gone!
CBR600RR track bike

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Shane661


Needs a life
Posts: 11494
posted April 10, 2009 08:45 AM        
quote:
quote:
You will stop writing articles and fix the pm system.





gabe has nuthin to do with the PM system... that's freek's dept.


As far as I am concerned, you are all just one big, evil empire!


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Douglas Home


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Posts: 710
posted April 10, 2009 09:10 AM        
If I live to be ninty I will put another wheel on my 14 rather than get on a scooter , unless it is ridden by my twentyfive year old girlfriend !!! At least at that age I will have an excuse for such crappy 60 foot times !
____________
Doug Mackay Australia

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SteveWFL


Moderator
Posts: 27916
posted April 10, 2009 09:29 AM        
at least we speeded things up with the scooter, remember the Harley article
____________
2010 Concours14
'08 R1 YAMAHA
ZX14 gone!
CBR600RR track bike

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Stu64


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Posts: 548
posted April 10, 2009 10:15 AM        
I wouldn't mind taking one of those 500cc three wheelers for a ride.
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dubious


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Needs more time to ride!
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posted April 10, 2009 10:32 AM        
quote:
You will stop writing articles and YOU WILL fix the pm system.








____________
natural selection.....
destiny will overcome intervention.
Some are not worthy of the effort.

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davej


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posted April 10, 2009 10:41 AM        
Wow! You ZX-14 riders also have a scooter? Mine in a 150cc Heritage. You guys are cooler than I thought!
____________
Triumph guy

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Flyboy


Pro
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posted April 10, 2009 12:32 PM        
I lived in Italy as a small boy for two years. Back then there were 98% motorcycles and 2% scooters. I returned to this fabulous country last summer and was astounded. There were 98% scooters and 2% motorcyles. I traveled days without seeing a motorcycle. Maybe that is a sign of what will happen here.
____________
'There's more living in five minutes flat-out on a bike than some men have in an entire life'.
"The World's Fastest Indian"

One fast red ZX-14,
Three World and four National Land Speed Records,
One faster red and white Cessna Turbo 210

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Stalwart


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How's that change workin' out?
Posts: 3354
posted April 10, 2009 01:06 PM        
quote:
Maybe that is a sign of what will happen here.


Only if Barry the Messiah gets his way . . .
____________
Stuart
________________________________
I'm tired of this President apologizing for us and spending us in to indentured servitude. FUCK YOU Barry!

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