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Piaggio Vehicles to launch `quadri-cycle' next year

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Mr Ravi Chopra, Managing Director, Piaggio Vehicles Pvt Ltd, at the launch of the new `Ape', a 1.3 tonner cargo carrier, in Chennai on Monday. - Bijoy Ghosh

Chennai , Sept. 20

PIAGGIO Vehicles Pvt Ltd plans to launch its "quadri-cycle" for the cargo market in the second half of 2005. Currently, extensive tests of the vehicle are underway.

It has got the design for the quadri-cycle - a four-wheeler goods and passenger carrier - from its Italian parent and has got ready a prototype that has been modified for Indian conditions, according to Mr Ravi Chopra, Managing Director, Piaggio Vehicles Private Ltd. In an informal chat with Business Line here on Monday , Mr Chopra hoped that issues over classifying a quadri-cycle would get sorted out soon.

The automobile industry in the country is divided on the safety norms that will have to be incorporated, in case the quadri-cycle is used for moving people. Some in the industry want the gross vehicle weight to be higher than 600 kg, while some others feel that 600 kg - the internationally followed limit - is adequate.

Mr Chopra was confident that these and other issues that are being currently debated by the industry would be sorted out shortly. Piaggio would launch the cargo carrier quadri-cycle next year, once the tests are completed.

This 1.5-tonne vehicle with a payload of 800 kg to one tonne, would be manufactured at Piaggio Vehicles' plant in Baramati, Maharashtra.

Mr Chopra was here to launch the 1.3-tonne three-wheeler cargo carrier from Piaggio. The company has a one-tonne three-wheeler in the market and the 1.3-tonne vehicle will help it offer a wider choice to customers in what Mr Chopra believes is a growing market. All the company's three-wheeler carriers are sold under `Ape' brand name.

In his reasoning, for every multi-axle vehicle that is sold for inter-city cargo movement, at least eight to 10 smaller cargo carriers of the capacity that Piaggio produces would be required, he told a press conference to launch the 1.3-tonne cargo carrier.

He said that Piaggio would have a capacity of one lakh units in place before the end of 2004 and 1.36 lakh units before the end of next year.

From a "few thousand vehicles" exported last year, Piaggio Vehicles hopes to increase exports to 20 per cent of total sales in the next couple of years. Its turnover is expected to grow from Rs 450 crore in 2003 to Rs 600 crore this year and the target is to increase it to Rs 1,000 crore by the end of 2005. Its profit before tax was "12 per cent to 13 per cent."

Mr Chopra said the Italian parent is also keen to make its Indian subsidiary a worldwide manufacturing hub for three-wheeler products. Piaggio Vehicles had seeded the market in 18 countries and hoped to begin exports to these countries shortly.

The markets include Africa, Latin America, South East Asia and South Asia.

The Italian company will also source components like plastic parts and sheet metal components for its global products.

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