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Coordinates: 43°39′39″N 10°37′50″E / 43.6609332°N 10.6304703°E / 43.6609332; 10.6304703

Piaggio & C. SpA
TypePublic (SpA)
  • Motor vehicle manufacturing
  • Motor vehicle distribution
  • Engine manufacturing
Founded24 January 1884; 137 years ago (1884-01-24)
FounderRinaldo Piaggio
Area served
Key people
  • Roberto Colaninno, Chairman and CEO
RevenueIncrease €1,512 million (2019)[1]
Increase €124.8 million (2019)[1]
Increase €46.7 million (2019)[1]
Number of employees
7,510 [2]

Piaggio & C. SpA (Piaggio [ˈpjaddʒo]) is an Italian motor vehicle manufacturer, which produces a range of two-wheeled motor vehicles and compact commercial vehicles under seven brands: Piaggio, Vespa, Gilera, Aprilia, Moto Guzzi, Derbi, and Scarabeo. Its corporate headquarters are located in Pontedera, Italy. The company was founded by Rinaldo Piaggio in 1884, initially producing locomotives and railway carriages.

Piaggio's subsidiaries employ a total of 7,053 employees and produced a total of 519,700 vehicles in 2014.[3] The manufacturer has six research-and-development centers and operates in over 50 countries.[4]


In 1882, Enrico Piaggio purchased land in Sestri Ponente (Genoa) to set up a timber yard. Two years later, in 1884, his 20-year-old son, Rinaldo Piaggio, founded Piaggio & C. The company initially built locomotives and railway carriages but in 1917, towards the end of World War, Rinaldo Piaggio turned to the military sector. To begin with, the company produced MAS anti-submarine motorboats, aeroplanes and seaplanes under Ansaldo, Macchi, Caproni, and Dornier licenses but later progressed to vehicles constructed according to Piaggio's own drawings.[5]

Between 1937 and 1939 Piaggio achieved 21 world records with its aircraft and engines built at the company's new factory in Pontedera, culminating in the four-engine Piaggio P.108 bomber.

Rinaldo died in 1938, by which time Piaggio was owned by multiple shareholders within the family, along with the entrepreneur Attilio Odero. Management of the company passed to his sons Enrico and Armando.[6]

By 1940 Piaggio was manufacturing trains, nautical fittings, aircraft engines, aeroplanes, trucks, trams, buses, funiculars and aluminium windows and doors. The Pontedera plant was destroyed by Allied bombing and production activities were relocated to the Biella area. After the war, Enrico Piaggio decided to diversify the company's activities outside the aeronautical industry to address a perceived need for a modern, affordable mode of transport for the Italian mass market. The first attempt, based on a small motorcycle made for parachutists, was known as the MP5 and nicknamed the "Paperino" (the Italian name for Donald Duck) because of its strange shape. Ultimately Enrico Piaggio did not like it and asked Corradino D'Ascanio to redesign it.

D'Ascanio, an aeronautical engineer responsible for the design and construction of the first modern helicopter by Agusta, was not naturally enthusiastic about motorcycles, judging them to be uncomfortable and bulky, with wheels that were difficult to change after a puncture. When asked to design a motorcycle for Ferdinando Innocenti, D'Ascanio had come up with a step through scooter design but D'Ascanio and Innocenti disagreed over use of pressings rather than tubing so D'Ascanio brought his design to Piaggio. Innocenti would ultimately use D'Ascanio's original design for their Lambretta scooter.

Piaggio asked D'Ascanio to create a simple, robust and affordable vehicle. The motorcycle had to be easy to drive for both men and women, be able to carry a passenger, and not get its driver's clothes dirty. The engineer's drawings proved a significant departure from the Paperino. With the help of Mario D'Este he prepared the first Vespa project, manufactured at Piaggio newly-rebuilt Pontedera headquarters in April 1946. Piaggio launched the Vespa (Italian for "wasp") and within ten years more than a million units had been produced. The Italian language gained a new word, "vespare", meaning to go somewhere on a Vespa.[7]


Vespa in a Todi street

Vespa thrived until 1992 when Gianni Agnelli became CEO. Agnelli was already suffering from cancer and died in 2003. In 1999 Morgan Grenfell Private Equity acquired Piaggio, but hopes for a quick sale were dashed by a failed joint venture in China.[clarification needed] In Italy, Piaggio invested 15 million euros ($19.4 million) in a new motorcycle but dropped it after building a prototype. By the end of 2002, the company had run up 577 million Euros in debt on revenues of 945 million Euros, and booked a loss of 129 million Euros.

In 2003 Piaggio's debt was reduced a 100 million Euro investment made by IMMSI, a holding company of the Colaninno family. 150 million shares were also converted by creditor banks. Reflecting on his investment, Roberto Colaninno said,

"A lot of people told me I was crazy. Piaggio wasn't dying. It just needed to be treated better."[8]"

Colannino became the new chairman of Piaggio, while Dr. Rocco Sabelli becoming the managing director. Sabelli redesigned the production line according to Japanese principles so that every Piaggio scooter could be made on any assembly line. Contrary to expectations, Mr. Colaninno did not fire a single worker – a move which helped seduce the company's skeptical unions. "Everyone in a company is part of the value chain," said Colaninno. All bonuses for blue-collar workers and management were based on the same criteria: profit margins and customer satisfaction. Air conditioning was installed in the factory for the first time, increasing productivity. He also gave the company's engineers, who had been idled by the company's financial crisis, deadlines for projects. They rolled out two world firsts in 2004: a gas-electric hybrid scooter and a sophisticated tilting scooter with two wheels in front and one in back to grip the road better.

One of Piaggio's problems Mr. Colaninno couldn't fix from the inside was its scale. Even though Piaggio was the European market leader, it was dwarfed by rivals Honda and Yamaha. A year after restoring Piaggio's health, Colaninno directed Piaggio's takeover of the Italian scooter and motorcycle manufacturer Aprilia, and with it the Aprilia-owned Moto Guzzi, a storied Italian manufacturer of motorcycles.

In 2006, Piaggio floated on the Milan Stock Exchange, becoming a public company.


In 1956, with production of the millionth Vespa scooter, Italy had its first mass-produced motorised vehicle. Taking advantage of increased cash flow thanks to the success of the Vespa, Piaggio developed other products, including the 1957 Vespa 400, a compact passenger car.

In 1959 Piaggio came under the control of the Agnelli family, the owners of car maker Fiat SpA.

By 1960 Vespa had produced and sold 4 million units worldwide.[9]

In 1964 the aeronautical and motorcycle divisions of Piaggio split to become two independent companies as a result of the wide ownership by Fiat in Italian industry.[clarification needed] The aeronautical division was named IAM Rinaldo Piaggio. The aircraft company Piaggio Aero was controlled by the family of Piero Ferrari, who still hold 10% of Ferrari.

In 1969 Piaggio purchased the motorcycle company Gilera, one of the oldest European motorcycle manufacturers (founded in 1909), famous for its sporting achievements and world titles in the Motorcycle World Championship.[10]

In 1971 a steering wheel was added to the Piaggio Ape, a model first produced in 1948, culminating in the Ape Car. Four years later, in 1975, the company made the first prototype of an electric Ape.[11]

In 1988 the Vespa reached the milestone of 10 million units produced.[12]

In 1996, on the fiftieth anniversary of the first model, Vespa passed 15 million units produced and the new 4-stroke Vespa ET, the first completely new Vespa for 18 years, was launched.[13] Piaggio was still in poor financial health but its brand recognition remained strong, boosted by the appearance of the ET4 in several Hollywood films.

In 1999, in Baramati, production began on a three-wheeler Ape for the Indian domestic market.[14]

In 2000 Piaggio and Vespa returned to the United States with the opening of the first Vespa Boutique in Los Angeles. In that same year the Piaggio Historical Museum was inaugurated in Pontedera. The museum showcases the Piaggio Historical Archive, one of the most comprehensive company archives on the industrial history of Italy.[15]

In 2001 the Piaggio Group acquired Derbi-Nacional Motor SA,[16] an historical Spanish brand founded in 1922 that had won 18 world titles and was a continental leader in the small displacement motorbike segment. In the same year Gilera returned to the Motorcycle World Championship and immediately won the world title in the 125 category with Manuel Poggiali.[17]

In 2004, at the end of December, the final contract for the acquisition of the Aprilia-Moto Guzzi Group was signed. The most important European two-wheeler group is born.[18]

In 2007 Piaggio Group officially arrives in Vietnam. The Vinh Puch plant includes R&D, welding and painting activities, as well as final assembly of the scooters, with warehouse, testing, quality control and office areas.[19]

In 2009 the Piaggio Mp3 Hybrid makes its debut on the market which was first hybrid scooter in the world, integrating the conventional low-environmental-impact internal combustion engine with a zero-emission electric motor and combining the advantages of the two power trains.[20]

In Baramati (State of Maharashtra), in 2012, the Piaggio Group's new plant for the production of Vespa's for the local market was opened.[21]

In 2013 the PADC – Piaggio Advanced Design Center opened in Pasadena (California, United States).[22] The Vespa 946 was also launched this year, along with the new Vespa Primavera, the latest evolution of the "small body" family.

In 2013 Vespa's worldwide sales numbered almost 190,000 units; in 2004 the figure stood at 58,000. In ten years of continuous progression over 1.3 million new Vespas have reached the streets of the world. Since 1946 over 18 million Vespas have been produced and sold.[23]

In September 2017 Foton and Piaggio agreed to form a joint venture to develop and produce light commercial vehicle.[24] Based on Foton chassis the new vehicle was sold by Piaggio Commercial Vehicle division in Europe and in all markets around the world but not in China. The vehicle is intended to be a successor of the Piaggio Porter and production is planned to start in mid-2019 in Pontedera (Italy) with all components produced by Foton in China.[25]

"Cultural Project" Piaggio[edit]

Piaggio's "cultural project" promotes the reconstruction and enhancement of the company's heritage and is composed by three initiatives: the Piaggio Foundation, the Historical Archives and the Piaggio Museum. In 2003 the Museum and Archives were recognised as the Best Corporate Museum and Archive by winning the Italian prize "Premio Impresa e Cultura".[26] In 2016, under the patronage of the Italian Ministry of Culture, Piaggio received the Corporate Art Award from pptArt for its Corporate Museum.[27]

Brands and models[edit]

1962 Vespa 150 GL
Piaggio MP3 three-wheel scooter

Group brands[edit]


  • Piaggio 110 Bicycle bodywork(110 anniversaries)
  • Ape – 3-wheel micro light commercial vehicles
  • Piaggio Porter 4-wheel microvans and micro-pickups, same as a Daihatsu Hijet.
  • Piaggio Quargo 4-wheel microvans and micro-pickups,
  • Piaggio MP3 tilting 3-wheel scooter
  • Diesis 50/100 (50cc air-cooled 2-stroke and 100 cc water-cooled 2-stroke) made between 2001 and 2005
  • FLY50/100/125/150
  • Free50
  • Typhoon 50 cc, 80 cc, 125 cc (1995–2000;2012)
  • Sfera NSL (50 cc & 80 cc) 1991–1995
  • Sfera RST (RST standing for Restyle) (50 cc 2-stroke & 125 cc 4-stroke) 1995 – ??
  • NRG mc1-3 (50 cc) (mc standing for mark.)
  • NRG Power PureJet (50 cc fuel injection, water cooling)
  • NRG Power DT (air-cooled) and DD (liquid-cooled), both introduced in 2005
  • NTT (water-cooled 2-stroke) made between 1995 and 1998
  • Liberty (50 cc 2-stroke, 125  cc & 150 cc 4-stroke)
  • Liberty S (50 cc 125 cc 200 cc)
  • LT ( US models of the Liberty. 50 cc and 125 cc 2-stroke)
  • Skipper ST (125 cc)
  • Piaggio Ciao (50 cc)
  • Si (50 cc)
  • Superbravo (50 cc)
  • Avanti (50 cc)
  • Grillo (50 cc)
  • Bravo (50 cc)
  • Grande (50 cc)
  • Boxer (50 cc)
  • Boxer 2 (50 cc)
  • X7 125 (European market), 250
  • X7 Evo (125, 300 cc) – announced 2009
  • X8 125 (European market), 250, 400
  • XEvo 125, 250, 400
  • X9 125/250 cc Evolution – the Evolution models superseded the previous X9 models in 2004, which were fitted with Honda engines
  • X9 500 cc Evolution with features not fitted on 125/250 cc models: hydraulic centre stand, integrated rider-to-pillion communication system, mobile-phone charger in front dash cubbyhole
  • X101E [2]
  • BV200/250
  • BV350
  • BV500 – neo-classic style, automatic transmission, top-speed 100 mph
  • Beverly (125 cc; 250 cc; 400 cc; 500 cc: Beverly is the Italian name for the BV models)
  • Medley 125 cc, Medley S 125cc
  • Carnaby (125 cc & 200 cc)
  • Free 50 (50 cc)
  • Hexagon (125 cc; 150 cc; 180 cc; 250 cc)
  • T (125 cc; 150 cc)
  • Piaggio Velofax or Vespino 1995 to 1999.
  • Quartz (50 cc 2-stroke, liquid-cooled)
  • Quartz (125 cc, 2-stroke, air-cooled)
  • Storm (125 cc, 4-stroke, air-cooled)
  • M500 (505 cc, 2-stroke, microcar)
  • Ravi Piaggio Strom (125 cc, 4-stroke) Joint venture of Piaggio with Ravi and available in Pakistani market
  • Piaggio Ape RR
  • Zip 50 cc 2-stroke, air-cooled (pre 2000)
  • Zip SP 50 cc 2-stroke, water-cooled (pre 2000)
  • Zip (Cat) 50 cc 2-stroke, air-cooled (2000 onwards)
  • Zip SP 50 cc two-stroke, water-cooled (2000 onwards)
  • Zip 4t 50 cc 4-stroke, air-cooled
  • Zip 4t 100 96.2 cc 4-stroke, air-cooled
  • Zip 125 125 cc 4-stroke, air-cooled

Electric scooters[edit]

The new plug-in hybrid version of the Piaggio MP3 will be equipped with a 125 cc petrol engine and electric motor, which offers about 141 mpg‑US (1.67 L/100 km; 169 mpg‑imp) and travels 13 miles (21 km) using battery power alone. This machine could be out in 2009.[28]

Piaggio/Vespa are also developing hybrid electric scooters. There are two models in the works, based on the popular Vespa LX 50 and the beefier Piaggio X8 125.[29]


  1. ^ a b c "Piaggio Group: 2018 Draft Financial Statements". Piaggio Group. 26 February 2020. Retrieved 6 April 2018.
  2. ^ "Piaggio Group: 2014 draft financial statements". Piaggio Group. 27 February 2015. Retrieved 22 September 2018.
  3. ^ "Piaggio Group: 2015 Draft Financial Statements". Piaggio Group. 26 May 2015. Retrieved 22 September 2018.
  4. ^ "Annual Report 2012 – Piaggio Group". Archived from the original on 4 October 2013. Retrieved 3 October 2013.
  5. ^ Sarti, Giorgio (2006). Vespa. Motorbooks. ISBN 9780760325773.
  6. ^ "History of Piaggio & C. S.p.A."
  7. ^ "Piaggio Origins & Vespa History". 29 August 2010.
  8. ^ "Vespa's Builder Scoots Back To Profitability".
  9. ^ "Piaggio History". 13 May 2015.
  10. ^ "Gilera – Models and History".
  11. ^ "History of Piaggio Ape".
  12. ^ "Happy Days! Vespa celebrates its 70th birthday". 28 April 2016.
  13. ^ "Vespa History".
  14. ^ "Piaggio inaugurates Vespa manufacturing plant in Baramati".
  15. ^ "Piaggio Museum".
  16. ^ "Derbi".
  17. ^ "Poggiali brings Gilera first 125 win for 45 years".
  18. ^ "Piaggio Buys Aprilia & Moto Guzzi".
  19. ^ "Piaggio Group: official opening of new Vietnam factory".
  20. ^ "Piaggio launches MP3 Hybrid 300ie scooter".
  21. ^ "Piaggio Group: Vespa makes its official debut on the Indian market".
  22. ^ "Will The Motorcycle of the Future Come From Pasadena?".
  23. ^ "70 Years of Vespa: All the Vespas Produced, Ever".
  24. ^ Piaggio and Foton joint venture
  25. ^ Piaggio Accordo con Foton per il nuovo Porter
  26. ^ [1][permanent dead link]
  27. ^ "2016 Corporate Art Awards - Corporate winners".
  28. ^ "Piaggio Scooters Gone Green: 141 MPG Hybrid". TreeHugger. Retrieved 10 August 2009.
  29. ^ "Vespa Unveils Hybrid Scooters". TreeHugger. Retrieved 10 August 2009.

External links[edit]