Rome: Vespa Granturismo launch. Speech by Giancarlo Binetti, Senior Vice President
Two-wheeler Business Unit, Piaggio & C. Spa
 
  25th & 26th March 2003  
   
 

Ladies and gentlemen,
Good afternoon and thank you all for being here today.
I'm Giancarlo Binetti, and I am the Senior vice president in charge of Piaggio's two wheeler business. On behalf of the Piaggio Group and in particular its CEO Stefano Rosselli Del Turco, who will join us this evening, I welcome you all.

For us at Piaggio, the launch of a new Vespa is always a very important and very special occasion. For me, being here to speak to you about a new Vespa is doubly moving: because I have the privilege of managing this extraordinary brand; and because I'm Italian, and I was born and brought up with the Vespa.
Every time we organise a press conference, all of us get together for a brainstorming session to decide what we are going to tell you. And each time Vespa is the topic, we all go very Michelangelo and want to design a huge historical fresco.

   
                   
 

The Vespa across the millennia. Stone Age Man inventing and creating one wheel - then two wheels. And then, not knowing what to do with his two wheels, he builds this… Vespa. A stone Vespa. Because the metal Vespa came later, in the Iron Age.
From the Iron Age to today, everything happened in a flash. Julius Caesar went off to conquer Gaul on a Vespa. And founded Piaggio France.
There are sketches of a Vespa in Leonardo da Vinci's Forster Codices. You're welcome to check this out at the Victoria and Albert Museum. It's a GS, if I'm not mistaken.
And as for the last hundred years, they are easy to sum up. Usually, at this point, we tell you about all the films that have had a Vespa in them. And that's exactly what we're going to do now. Take a look..

Okay, jokes aside, it's absolutely true that Roman Holiday, Vacanze Romane, was filmed exactly 50 years ago right here in Rome. On the very same streets you're going to be riding through on the new Vespa.
Cinema has this almost unique ability to fix a scene, a phrase or a situation in our minds. Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck on a Vespa in Rome is one of those unforgettable scenes. It suggests lightness, style, Italian-ness, history. Rome. And it suggests that wonderful feeling of freedom, the fun of a romantic elopement.
Half a century later the Vespa still suggests all of this. And so does the Vespa Granturismo.
This is Vespa Granturismo. The latest in a long series of Vespas.
I think it's gorgeous. Almost sexy. Our style centre, our technicians, have done a fantastic job.

For any company, having a cult object among its products is a dream come true. But it's also an ongoing challenge, because keeping a product like this up to date is about as easy as walking a tightrope.
As far as the Vespa Granturismo is concerned, the challenge started in 1996, the same year that we were launching the extraordinary Vespa ET4, which has been in every European sales classification for three years running.
But it wouldn't be right to fix this Vespa's birth at 1996. What we thought of then was actually a different product, a different concept. After three years of experimenting and eight prototypes, we ended up abandoning that concept.
It didn't convince us, and it didn't convince the people who saw it during the tests we organised in Europe. Basically, those prototypes didn't give the impression of being "real" Vespas. The aspects that were criticised were so important that our designers decided to redo the whole thing, start all over again, from zero.
The new prototypes were ready in the summer of 2000. They were discreetly tested in Italy, France, Germany, the UK and Spain. These markets together account for 86 per cent of all European sales of over-50cc scooters.
This time we realised we were doing it right.
The reactions we got were: that the new prototypes had the three ideas that people associate with the Vespa - adventure, style, simplicity; that the combination of classic design and advanced technology was immediately obvious; but most of all, the reaction that we really wanted to hear: "One look and you can tell it's a Vespa.”

 
                   
    I think all of you can see that this is definitely a Vespa. Even if I conceal its logo.
But inside this steel body - which is the result of an absolutely unique manufacturing concept - there's a lot that is new: this is the first Vespa with four stroke, four valve, liquid cooled engines. These are new generation engines, they're extremely environmentally friendly, they are already compatible with future Euro2 emissions legislation; this is the first Vespa with 12 inch wheels; it's also the first Vespa to have a braking system with only disk brakes.
 
                   
  The size is also new. The Granturismo is definitely bigger than any other Vespa. Its performance is also new. This is the fastest and most powerful Vespa to come off a standard production line. Which is why we chose the name Granturismo.
There are very striking style and technological differences with the other two Vespa models, the ET and PX, so the Granturismo forms a real product range of its own. It's the first time since we stopped producing the "Primavera" that there are three distinct and specific Vespa ranges. This is extremely important for us from the strategic point of view, because it strengthens Vespa's position as a separate brand with its own identity, different from our Group's other brands.
I think you know these brands quite well: Piaggio, the brand which has the same name as the company and offers products meant to satisfy the needs of a very wide range of customers who all enjoy easy individual mobility. Gilera, our sport brand whose keywords are passion and tradition. And Derbi, which, as I would like to remind you, is controlled 100 per cent by our Group since 2001, even though this Spanish company - a specialist and leading brand in small and medium-sized bikes - operates totally independently in terms of sales and products.
This gives us an incredible multi-brand range through which we command 27.5 per cent of the European market in the segments in which we operate. We are in the leading position. It's a share that we intend to improve this year, especially because we will have some really innovative new products - and we won't stop there.
 
                   
  But let's get back to the Vespa and the Vespa range.
The new 200L and 125L Granturismo will give the other two product ranges a more specific focus:
> Vespa ET "specialises" in customers who like riding a compact and easy vehicle but also want to set themselves apart from the crowd.
This is a customer bracket that has a lot of young riders, not least because the Vespa ET range includes two 50cc versions, with 2- and 4-stroke engines. It also has a high percentage of female riders - 30 per cent of all Vespa ET customers are women.
For this very important range, we plan small but significant changes in the immediate future, like lowering the seat height and adding side stand to make it easier to park.
   
 

> Vespa PX is a truly unusual vehicle.
It was first produced in 1977 and has sold over two million units to date.
Just one week ago, in Germany, readers of the magazine "Motorrad" voted the PX second in the "scooter of the year" classification.
Vespa PX is an "original vintage" - it's the equivalent of a 2CV or R4 which has got as far as our time.
And - this is the big surprise - it's not so much the nostalgia seekers who are the biggest PX buyers, but the young. In fact 66 per cent of all PX buyers in Europe are aged between 18 and 34, and over 30 per cent are between 18 and 24 years old. These are people who weren't even born when the PX was first launched!
Vespa PX is a "different" choice - it's totally outside any group or trend.
And it's a product that we have no intention of letting go.

 
                   
    Today, the Vespa Granturismo lines up alongside these two Vespa "families". Its objective is to create a new type of product between the big GT scooters and the more compact "classic" scooters; Vespa Granturismo is meant to satisfy the most advanced and demanding standards of performance and comfort; while simultaneously satisfying the "It has to be a Vespa" need of those who want something that reflects a specific personality and lifestyle, rather than just a scooter.
All of us look for objects that suit us. Which best reflect our own personality. And which express a specific and enduring idea rather than just following the trends of the moment.
Since it came into being the Vespa has always been more than a scooter. It has always been an original icon that has expressed the culture of its own time. It has always been faithful to itself, invisibly linked to preceding Vespa models but utterly different from any other product.
 
                   
 

The Vespa Granturismo is a strongly urban product. It is made for people who live in the capitals and metropolises of the world. In fact the launch campaign in Europe has the slogan “Urban Everywhere”.
This Vespa speaks to a young customer, as young as 16 for the Vespa Granturismo 125L, where legislation permits it; and with an average of 25 and up for the Granturismo 200L.
Our market research tells us this Vespa is more likely than the others to have a male clientele - 75 percent for the 125cc and 90 per cent for the 200. This customer likes an easy ride. But he certainly appreciates smart pick up, sparkle and performance. All of which he'll find in the Vespa Granturismo.
Its engines are the latest generation in scooter propulsions and offer state-of-the-art performance. This mechanical heart is surrounded by an ultramodern but totally Vespa body.
With details such as the big round front lamp. Like the front shield, it's not just a style feature but also the result of extensive areodynamic studies. Or the side "flanks". Their shape, which is key for lightness and to recall Vespa design, was one of the basic style themes for our designers. They conceal not only the engine but also an under-seat space that actually holds two jet helmets. And the large rear lamp - for the first time it fits totally into the bodywork and leaves the back of the vehicle free to close itself around the rear wheel.
The comfort levels suit needs and sizes that have increased with time. The Vespa Granturismo is roomy. It makes you want to travel - preferably in good company.
But we haven't changed the attention to detail: from the trim that emphasises the profile, to the rubber moulding of the footrest panel, to an extremely comprehensive but unobtrusive instrumentation; and "aeronautic" touches that are in the Vespa's DNA - such as the aluminium passenger footrests that fold invisibly back into the frame.
The colours highlight the shape and the charms of this new Vespa. There are two launch colours: Vintage green, which is a modern take on the "historical" Vespa colour of the very first model. And smoky grey, which subtly emphasises the Granturismo's modern elegance. There are another four colours to create a palette to suit every taste.
The overall effect is elegant and very modern. Unique.
And, most of all, joie de vivre and personalised urban mobility.

I hope that here in Rome you will feel the pleasure of travelling around a magnificent city on this beautiful vehicle that is different from any other.
I wish you a good test ride and an enjoyable stay.
That’s all. Thank you for your attention.
And I am at your disposal, with my colleagues - in particular Lucio Masut, Piaggio’s Senior vice president R&D and Operations, and Alessandro De Angelini, Marketing Director - for any questions you may have.

 
                   
     
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