Vespa India Introduces LX125, Brings Style
Over the past two years, Piaggio have been gearing up production to reintroduce the Vespa to the Indian scooter market following a long hiatus.
The Vespa originally entered the Indian market in the Sixties before partnering with local manufacturer Bajaj Auto Ltd. in a joint venture that lasted a decade before Bajaj continued on producing its own scooters, notably the Chetak, using pattern parts and machinery originally derived from the Vespa. Following the Bajaj partnership, Piaggio entered a similar agreement with local manufacturer LML before LML acquired Piaggio’s stake fully in 1999 knocking Piaggio out of the market completely.
With Bajaj’s scooter production behind it (it ended roughly two years ago,) and LML’s relationship over, Piaggio has seized the opportunity to have the Indian scooter back again.
That day has finally come with the introduction earlier this year of the Lx125. But while at first glance the “Indian Vespa” – as Piaggio officials like to call it – looks like the LX125/150 that has been so popular both in Europe and here in the states, the scooter is not the same powered two wheeler the rest of us have been riding.
It took Piaggio’s designers and engineers over a year to figure out how to best adapt the Vespa LX150 for Indian riders and roads. The changes run from cosmetic – reshaping the seat to accommodate side-saddle pillion passengers and producing a longer foot board for said passenger – to ground clearance, allowing more breathing room for suspension on India’s notoriously potholed roads.
Perhaps not surprisingly, the horn on the Indian incarnation of the LX is also much louder than its international counterparts to cut through the local traffic cacophony.
The LX125 entered the market in March this year to promising sales, and Piaggio Indian have just released their first TV commercial, seen below. The commercial speaks to the Vespa’s positioning for the first time as a premium scooter for the Indian market. As the local economy has strengthened, car ownership has exploded, but it’s Piaggio’s hope that their humble scooter will still provide a favored means of transportation for many as some of those commuters look for something a little more stylish.
The LX is being produced in a new Piaggio plant based in Baramati and is on target to produce 150,000 units this year. By the middle of 2013, Piaggio is hoping to double that production up to 300,000 units. You can see more on the “Indian Vespa” over at VespaIndia.com.