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Old September 18th, 2014, 01:00 PM   #1
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[motorcycle.com] - Q&A With Piaggio Group Chairman Roberto Colaninno


The Piaggio Group umbrella has within it many names: Piaggio, of course, but also Moto Guzzi, Derbi, Gilera, Vespa and Aprilia. With the news that Aprilia is going to jump into the MotoGP circus a year ahead of schedule, in 2015, many want to know what prompted the company to make such a bold decision. In this Q&A session, released to us from the Piaggio Group, company Chairman Roberto Colaninno answers these questions and more.

[Entering into MotoGP is like] A declaration of war for your adversaries, but it’s also a dangerous promise if then things do not go according to the dreams of its fans…
“It’s true, these are always two-sided declarations. One is the risk inherent in the declaration and the other on what the declaration is based”.

As if to say you’re sure of your bike’s competitiveness.
“During the years in which Piaggio has managed Aprilia we have won 30 world titles. And, above all, we have won them with Italian riders. I place enormous trust in the history and tradition of Aprilia. From the technological point of view we are unbeatable. We have demonstrated that we can compete at the highest level against the Japanese manufacturers that today dominate the leading class”.

Precisely because of its past, Aprilia cannot afford to just participate. It must win.
“We have raced, won and won hands down with the 250, we have raced, won and won hands down with the Superbike. The only one missing is the MotoGP. We want to compete at the top with a clear goal: win and win hands down also here. We cannot afford not to participate in the races. And we must participate with one goal only: to win”.

Will next year only be a running in test? You have a four-year contract with Gresini, is this the time frame within which you intend to win?
“Aprilia has demonstrated its ability to grow quickly, just think of the 5 titles won in 4 seasons in the Sbk. It is reasonable to expect results within the space of three years. Certainly not in 2015, which we could have spent in testing far away from the races, but which instead we wanted to immediately turn into a competitive commitment”.

This is a new “made in Italy” challenge for the Japanese.*
“We must cultivate, strengthen and take every peculiar aspect of our identity to the extreme. Which is not just the power of “Italian style”. We sell both Italian style as well as cutting-edge technology”.

So are the races a laboratory for mobility of the future?
“Piaggio is working in the United States with important research institutes to understand how the major metropolitan areas of the future will be and keep our technological offer for the customers of tomorrow up to date. The two parameters on which we need to work are pollution and fuel consumption”.

OK, but in the cities of the future there will be more Mp3′s travelling than GP bikes…
“Undoubtedly, but in racing we can carry out research and development. It’s a fundamental laboratory for many solutions that can be useful for the mobility of tomorrow”.

Racing as a test bench for future technologies?
“It’s an open-air laboratory. Aprilia has written a large part of the history of motorcycle racing precisely thanks to innovation: think of ride by wire, pneumatic valves and traction control systems”.

Aprilia is also a brand that has launched and brought to the podium riders such as Valentino Rossi, Biaggi, Capirossi, Melandri, Poggiali, Lorenzo and Stoner without forgetting the wins of Simoncelli with Gilera and Marquez with Derbi, other Group brands. In MotoGP however you cannot count on young emerging riders to win, or can you?
“The challenge is stimulating. One would like to find a young Italian talent, launch him and bring him to success. There could be nothing better”.

Waiting to know whether or not (more likely) Melandri will be involved, the engineer managing the Aprilia racing technology is Italian…
“Romano Albesiano with his team has shown that he is capable of creating an amazing bike, just think of the Aprilia RSV4 on which the bike that won five Superbike world titles was based, or in a completely different world the extraordinary Moto Guzzi California 1400. And this year, in the SBK, he has demonstrated to be capable of coordinating a top class competitive effort”.

In the group there are two other brands historically connected with racing such as Moto Guzzi and Gilera. Are there new challenges on the horizon?
“There is the desire to invest in many brands, but you need to have the courage to resist the temptation. For the time being we are concentrating on racing”.

Certainly Vespa doesn’t need to race to sell. Our grandparents liked it and so do their grandchildren.
“Piaggio has more than tripled Vespa sales in ten years, also building factories on the other side of the world. It’s no coincidence that tomorrow I am leaving for India to launch a new phase of development of our Indian plants, which are exploiting the signs of economic recovery, and therefore a return to the great expansion of that area, where one billion two hundred million consumers live”.

And based on the Vespa is the success of the three wheelers, the Mp3′s which start to have many imitations.
“It was a revolutionary product. It didn’t exist, we invented it. It is an example of our commitment to imagine the needs of the future of our customers. We got there before the others”.

And the next technological challenge?
“We are working on the maximum reduction of pollution and fuel consumption.?These are two fundamental drivers to achieve our growth objectives”.

Let’s close with Alitalia which you are Chairman of. Is [Luca] Montezemolo (former chairman of Ferrari. -TS) the right man to take your place?*
“I contributed to rescuing Alitalia and I am proud of it. But I already said some time ago that I wanted to leave the Chairmanship. I will remain a shareholder and a board member. But a man like Montezemolo who has said he is willing to be Chairman is an opportunity not to be missed”.

Q&A With Piaggio Group Chairman Roberto Colaninno appeared first on Motorcycle.com News.



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