An Interview with Constantino Ruggiero

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Long-Time Italian Motorcycle Leader Retires

MILAN (Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2010)— Constantino Ruggiero, 72, arguably is one of the most influential leaders in the Italian motorcycle industry. He is considered by many to be the grand old man of Italy’s two-wheel industry, everything from bicycles to mopeds and motorcycles. He’s headed the national association of bicycle and motorcycle manufacturers (ANCMA) for 25 years and built its annual equipment show, EICMA, to be the largest of its kind on earth.

Constantino Ruggiero

But now, Ruggiero is moving on; he retires on Jan. 1, 2011. I caught up with this soft-spoken Italian gentleman during one of his hectic days here at EICMA.  Here’s a summary of our conversation, edited for brevity and clarity.

Joe Delmont: Your retirement was a surprise to many. When is your last day in office?
Constantino Ruggiero: My retirement is effective Jan. 1, 2011.

JD: What will you do after you leave office?
CR: Anything I can find. I have to earn money in some way and not get bored. Now we are working in order to live to 120 years of age, so 72 is a very young guy.

JD: How long have you been in the industry?
CR: 25 years at ANCMA and 23 years before that at Pirelli.

JD: What accomplishment are you most proud of during your time at ANCMA?
CR: Perhaps the biggest accomplishment was the EICMA show in Italy and its expansion to Singapore and in China. 1987 was my first show. At that time, the show was 30,000 sq, m, and it housed both bicycles and motorbikes. We had about the same attendance that we have today and today it’s only for motorbikes.

JD: Let’s talk about EICMA-China. What’s the potential for that show?
CR: We still have the opportunity of two big EICMAs, one in Italy and one in China.  But it’s very hard; we are hoping in this opportunity and possibility.

JD: What is the potential for Italian companies in the China market and also for companies from other countries in Europe and America?
CR: The challenges are quite high because we are starting from beginning and because there are no exports from our country to China.

JD: What are the problems, other than the typical problems for a new venture in a new market?
CR: There are two big problems blocking success for motorcycles in China.  First, it is not possible to ride motorcycles in big cities; at the moment, in 18 of the bigger Chinese cities, motorbikes are not allowed. The law must be changed to allow that possibility, riding in cities.

JD: What is ANCMA doing about this problem?
CR: Last year, during EICMA-China, had a big discussion, a very important conference. In the conference were groups of motorcyclists, who tried to push the government to permit riding in big cities.

JD: What is the second problem?
CR: The laws for anti-pollution must be much more strict than they are at the moment.  Then, we could become more competitive (in the Chinese market) with our motorcycles because we have very high standards in this sense.  Once they have high environmental standards, we can compete with our products because they can meet high environmental standards, otherwise we are too expensive for Chinese consumers.  And then, also, we would be able to use bikes in cities.

JD: So, basically, you have to get two legal blocks changed. You have to have the ban on bikes in cities lifted, and you have to have environmental standards added which Italian OEMs could meet, but which would be difficult for Chinese manufacturers to meet.
CR: Yes. But the Chinese are trying to do something.

JD: Do you see the MIC (Motorcycle Industry Council) being involved in future in EICMA-China shows?
CR: It’s possible that we can invite them in the future for some kind of forum, but we don’t have plans to do that at this time.

JD: What’s happening in Italian motorcycle industry this year? How are your members doing?
CR: In first 10 months of the year, sales have declined 24%. Scooters lost much more than motorbikes. High-speed motorbikes have gained instead of losing.  Compared to last year, unit sales declined by 100,000 vehicles.

JD: What is the breakdown by segment?
CR: Scooters were down 28% and motorbikes, down 13.7%.

JD: How many units are we talking about?
CR: There were 480,000 two-wheel vehicles produced; 360,000 were exported and 340,000 were imported.

JD: Do you have a breakdown by displacement?
CR: Yes. The 800-1000 cc segment gained 2.2%, and the large bikes over 1000cc gained 10.7%. 600cc bikes were down 41.4%, the 650-750cc segment lost 29.8% percent, and 125cc lost 17.5%.

JD: So customers like big bikes?
CR: Yes. The richest still continue to spend money on this kind of goods.

JD: Any legal reason for this?
CR: No. That’s the way market works

JD: Do you see this trend continuing next year?
CR: It’s impossible to know. We think that the buyers of small and medium displacement bikes will come back.

JD: I understand that there is a new law in Italy designed to stimulate bike sales. Can you tell me about it?
CR: Yes, today, we have new law.  You receive an incentive of 10% up to maximum of 750 Euros to buy a new qualifying motorbike.

JD: How does the law work? What qualifies?
CR: In order to get rebate, you have to throw away your old motorbike. It’s a question of pollution. You get more money if you get rid of an older bike or one that pollutes more.

JD: It sounds like Obama’s Cash for Clunkers program where the government paid consumers to dump their old cars and buy new ones. Was ANCMA involved in getting Italy’s bike rebate program implemented?
CR: Yes, we had a great part in lobbying for this program because it pushes sales.

JD: How do you see the U.S. market for Italian companies?
CR: The crisis in the American market has given us problems because it’s more difficult to get components. Many American component companies that we used to buy from have closed down.

JD: What about selling Italian products into U.S. market?
CR: We had a decrease.   I don’t know how much, but it was a decrease for sure in both machines and accessories.

JD: Will this change next year?
CR: Who knows? You should be telling us about that.  And now your elections… more changes with the Democrats. JD

Contact me with news tips or story ideas at
joe@powersportsupdate.com or 612/845-8091

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