The split between diesel and alternative fuel in 3-wheelers will change drastically going forward – PIAGGIO'S DIEGO GRAFFI
MOTORINDIA|June 2021
Piaggio Vehicle India (P) Ltd. (PVPL) Managing Director and Chairman, Diego Graffi, is among the heads of the industry calling for self-reliance and is leading his company in that direction. Sharing his insights with Rajesh Rajgor, he discusses the opportunities and impetus involved to strengthen the company’s products in India and abroad
Rajesh Rajgor

How would you summarise Piaggio Vehicle Private Limited’s (PVPL) India journey in the three-wheeler cargo and passenger space for the past few years versus the last 15 months?

As you are aware, PVPL commenced operations in India in 1999 with the launch of its three-wheeler brand Apé, which was an immediate success and has grown from strength to strength over the years. Our products are not only endorsed by approximately 3 million satisfied customers across India but also exported to more than 40 countries. The company has gone through major changes over the years in terms of both products as well as business expansion.

The growth momentum continued in the years that followed with of course the last 15 months of the pandemic being a bit exceptional. The year 2018-19 has been a record year for us as the three-wheeler industry was at the peak. Our sales figure for commercial vehicles (CVs) stood at 1,64,334 in 2019. We were aiming that 2020 would be another record year for us, notwithstanding the impact of the BS-VI norms. Definitely, the pandemic came suddenly and changed the business parameters in the industry. Despite this, we have seen a strong push for three-wheeler cargo for goods transportation during the unlocking phase.

Hence, towards the end of 2020, October, November and December have been positive for us in both CV and two-wheeler business. We are looking at positive performance in 2021 from all points of view. We have set the basics right in terms of wide products – diesel and alternative fuel as well as extensive dealer network. In India PVPL has shown market share growth in both the CV and two-wheeler business in the first quarter of 2021 and our network depth contributes to this. The second wave did dampen the sentiments but the faster and full vaccination drive should open the market pretty soon and bring people back to normalcy.

Has the transition to BS-VI, availability of alternative fuel vehicles and pandemic led restrictions impacted the performance of shared mobility in the three-wheeler segment?

It remains a matter of fact that the transition to BS-VI and the corona virus-triggered restrictions slowed the sentiments for shared passenger mobility. The changes have been challenging for the entire industry, not merely from the technology point of view but also from the economical perspective. We have seen price increase of vehicles, mainly for diesel that complied with BS-VI emission norms. That said, the full impact of BS-VI has still not been witnessed in the three-wheeler industry, especially in the passenger vehicle segment.

We will get to know about this only when the market opens up pan-India and everything returns to normal. Our perception is that we are seeing good sign already toward alternative fuel and a move from diesel to alternative fuel will be imminent. CNG will continue to remain the most effective solution in terms of product ownership and drivability. Going forward, both for cargo and passenger vehicles the percentage of diesel and alternative fuel will change quite drastically. We have seen this in the second half of 2020 – it will be much more evident going forward.

What is your reading of the evolving last mile connectivity? How does Piaggio Vehicle fare both in the passenger and cargo segments?

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