Piaggio rolls out CNG 'Ace', denies entry into 2-wheeler segment

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New Delhi, Sept 26 (UNI) Holding a significant 44 per cent market share in the three-wheeler cargo segment, Piaggio Vehicles today launched the CNG version of 'Ape' and said it has no plans to enter the two-wheeler segment, thus putting all speculations at rest.

The new vehicle is priced at Rs 1.40 lakh and the company would soon launch the passenger version with a price tag of around Rs 1.30 lakh.

The company has a market share of 50 per cent in the diesel category and a significant share in passenger segment.

''We have created the market over the years and have given stiff competition to other players in the market,'' company's Chairman and Managing Director Ravi Chopra told reporters here.

''Next year we should be able to introduce 'Ape Truck Plus' which will cater to the upper end of the sub one-tonne segment,'' Mr Chopra added.

The vehicle launched today comes with a 400 cc, four-stroke engine with a unique twin cooling system. ''With least operating costs, there is a gain for the customers''.

Dismissing options of replacing diesel and petrol vehicles with CNG, Mr Chopra said ''Diesel is clean fuel.'' Piaggio launched the sub one-tonne mini truck in three states of Tamil Nadu, Kerela and Maharashtra. ''There is a great potential in the truck and we hope that we will garner a sizeble share in the months to come.'' ''We will launch the truck in other states in 4-6 months and will spread across the country by March-end next year,'' Mr Chopra added.

''We position our products at the upper end of the three wheelers and at lower end of four wheelers. We have not been impacted in last one-and-a-half years due to the introduction of four wheelers and our volumes continue to grow.'' The company wants to be a full-range light commercial vehicle manufacturer and will ramp up the capacity as the demand grows.

The company is also in the process of setting up a diesel engine manufacturing plant at its existing plant at Baramati by 2009 with an initial capacity of 2,00,000 engines at an investment of 60 million euros. The plant will cater to both the domestic market and exports.

Piaggio sold a total of 1,40,000 three wheelers last year and a target of 1,60,000 this year.

The four wheeler capacity is 36,000 per annum which will be scaled up depending upon the market.

Denying any possible acquistions in the future, Mr Chopra said that entire attention is on the Baramati plant and there is no plans to enter the two wheeler segment.

Looking forward to launch the passenger version of its truck, Mr Chopra said we have to look at the government regulations.

The company on an average is selling 5,800 cargo three wheelers per month and 7,400 passenger vehicles and has sold 1,000 units of the truck in two-and-a-half months after the launch.

The company is having a 36 per cent market share in the passenger segment.

''The impact of hardening interest rates on the three wheelers is least,'' Mr Chopra said, adding that there is a tremendous potential for exports.

Piaggio will grow by 15 per cent this year in comparison to 39 per cent last year, he added.

The company will launch Ace truck plus next year and will roll out sub two-tonne truck by 2010.

UNI

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