By on November 4, 2010

The need to expand automotive brands while improving fuel economy is driving automakers to some interesting lengths of late. From GM future concepts that have more in common with a Segway than a Cruze, to Honda’s U-3X and Chrysler’s ill-fated PeaPod, automakers are sending strong hints that the future will be smaller and decidedly less car-like. And MINI and Smart recently took this trend to its logical conclusion, each announcing that they would build (or, more precisely, re-brand) scooters… or as they call them, “alternative mobility concepts.” Which raises the question: what’s a scooter brand to do? Well, Piaggio, maker of the Vespa and other scooter-based “alternative mobility concepts” isn’t going to just drone off into that good night, and it’s fighting back by creating an “alternative” to its core scooter products: a four wheeled car-like “mobility concept.”

Autocar reports that the Piaggio Ape-based NT-3 was unveiled at the Milan Motorcycle Show (and hey, MINI and Smart showed their scooters at the Paris Auto Show, so who’s to judge?), as a future Tata Nano-fighter. The three-seater, 300cc city car is being targeted at the Indian market, with production planned for the 2013 timeframe. But they’d better get a move on before their core scooter business gets eaten up by auto brands with nothing better to do.

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3 Comments on “With Car Brands Targeting Scooter Sales, Piaggio Bites Back...”

  • avatar

    I was thinking of buying a Piaggio MP3 but then I spoke to an owner who told me of expensive maintenance once the one-year warranty ran out.  I don’t know if everyone else had his experience, but it made me reconsider.
    If this ‘thing’ makes it to production, and offers a one-year warranty, imho it is DOA

  • avatar

    “…auto brands with nothing better to do.”
    What could possibly be better than designing vehicles to sell in India and China, the largest (and still growing!) markets in the world?

  • avatar

    wWell, the smart has been selling (very) relatively briskly here, though I don’t want one. A Paiggio with such a hallowed name, has more of chance of getting my money if I were ever to buy a car like this.

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