Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Piaggio Takes it Public...

We've all been saying it for as long as we can remember, but Piaggio is now taking some big steps that should have been part of every scooter manufacturer's plan all along: getting in America's face (politely, of course) about the fuel economy of scooters. Piaggio has taken out a full-page ad in the NY Times with an open letter to US Mayors. I'll include it here:

"Open letter to all U.S. mayors concerned with America's oil consumption

To attain the ambitious goal of breaking America's "addiction to oil," the President has recently focused on the need to invest in alternative fuel technologies. However, there is also a behavioral approach that could greatly reduce this nation's energy consumption, while helping to preserve our environment and reduce traffic congestion.

The use of motor scooters - a daily behavior of millions of people across Europe and Asia - is only marginally embraced in the United States. Everyday in this country, millions of individuals drive their cars in locations and situations where motor scooters would be perfectly appropriate and convenient. Instead, if they were to utilize one of the latest eco-friendly motor scooters available in the market today - those compliant with the most stringent European and American regulations on gas emissions - they would, on average, reduce their fuel consumption by 58%, their emissions of carbon monoxide by 90%, and their emissions of carbon dioxide by 80%.

With the launch of the first Vespa in 1946, our company started a movement that has substantively improved transportation in countries around the world. Consistent with the President's energy utilization goals, we believe the time has come to expand the range of transportation solutions also in the United States.

We encourage you to broaden the dialogue about energy self-sufficiency to include both technological solutions and behavioral ones, fostering acceptance of alternative transportation, such as scootering. With your support - as well as that of other federal, state and local government leaders - scootering would bring immediate and substantial economic and environmental benefits to Americans and the communities in which they live.

We remain at your disposal should you wish to discuss this opportunity further.

Paolo Timoni
President and CEO
Piaggio Group Americas"

The idea that scooters are a fun, easy-caring way to move through life is a valid one, but us American's have sometimes simple triggers in our brains, thus at the Indy Dealer show, guys were lining up to get signed posters from girls in tight fitting clothes who were essentially nobodies with pretty faces and slim figures. Thus, saying "scooters will save you money on the gas that you were cursing last year" will hit home.

When Piaggio first came back to the US, I was expecting some TV advertisements. I had the perfect one visulized in my brain:

A gas station attendant leans against a gas pump while a nondescript soccermom or regular joe guy pumps gas into his/her SUV. The pump make that old style click sound which indicated how much gas he is getting. A smartly and appropriately dressed scooterist pulls in to the pump near the SUV and jumps off, uses ATM card, and fills his/her tank. Meanwhile SUV person is still pumping away. The scooterists gets back on the scooter and waves to the attendant and says, "see you next week!" leaving the attendant and the SUV as they were when the commercial started.

The overwhelming message of my commercial idea is stated simply: save time and money and be the envy of the road. I think those ads would make some serious inroads in getting America to wake up to the realities of our gas addiction. They could also back it up with abother commercial containing real testimonials from riders who see the benefits of scootering. Small print ads showing people having fun only go so far. The scootering industry needs to pound the message into the american mind (with a potpourri scented velvet hammer of course!) if they exepect to make soem serious inroads into the transportation market. They are trying, and Piaggio's current step (which includes a similar letter sent to George Dubbya) will benefit the whole industry.

On a a side note, I did spend the whole president's day weekend (and then some) at the Indy Dealer show, but I'll blog that throughout the upcoming week. Stay tuned!


Steve Williams said...

I was glad to see the Piaggio letter but I fear it falls on deaf ears. The driving public has a passionate lover affair with their vehicles. It's beyond utility, safety and convience. It is tied to our identity, need to conform, pride, ego, vanity, etc.

And we're rich. So we'll just pay more to keep driving cars and trucks and RVs and yachts. We'll pay more for fancy bottled water than we do for gas.

It probably didn't help back in the 70's when we were all told that we would be out of gas by now. Not enough people believe there are problems that technology can't solve and mostly no one really cares...

We genetically modify food crops to do what we want. Maybe we can do the same thing to enhance scooter riding. There has got to be a supplement for that! *grin*

Can't wait to get the next issue of Scoot. I don't subscribe becasue then I wouldn't be able to ride to the store to look for it. But I will probably subscribe just so you have a better idea of the scooter support.

Good luck on your blog. I'm having fun with mine.


Keys said...

I even enjoy playing that game with motorcyclists. I have a great number of friends who ride bigger bikes. They ask me why I ride my Bajaj Chetak. I simply tell them, $2400.00 out the door, $94.00/year for full-coverage (incl. theft), $30.00/year tags, 60 m.p.h. and 100 m.p.g. NOW who's the dork?

Super Buck said...

Piaggio need to get their act together before seeking more sales.

Christ, I have a new GT200 and they must have spent 1/6 the bikes sale price in warranty repairs. Nothing mechanical either, just poor quality on most items.

It's not just me either, most Piaggio owners I meet have the same problem. With Daimler Benz appointing a new head to get on top of post sales problems Piaggio should sit up and take notice. Their products look great, but they Japs leave them for dead in quality.

Warren said...

I have a Piaggio X9 and a honda Silverwing. I think if anything the X9 has a little better quality than the Honda. The problem I have with Piaggio is the poor parts delivery. If they don't get that straightened out it'll be a tough sell for them