Archive for the ‘Moto Guzzi’ Category

Piaggio Cuts Sales and Marketing Staff

January 19, 2010

No Reduction in Dealer Services Planned

Reduced unit sales of scooters in 2009 forced Piaggio USA to cut several top level managers in its sales operation and flatten out its sales staff, Paolo Timoni, president and CEO of Piaggio’s US operations, told me.

Noting that industry-wide U.S. scooter sales were down about 65% last year, Timoni said that steps had to be taken to balance revenue and costs. “We don’t expect 2010 sales to go back to 2008 numbers,” said Timoni. So, it was cut either sales or dealer services.

“Given our priorities for 2010 and 2011,” Timoni said, “ we concluded it was a priority for us to maintain our service capabilities (to dealers) as much as possible, because we think this is what dealers need. Probably, we could get with a smaller sales organization, since there wouldn’t be that much sales, right? Therefore, we basically reduced the size of our sales organization.”

The position of vice president of sales and marketing has been eliminated and the former head of sales and marketing, Gary Pietruszewski, has been let go. The marketing management functions now will be handled by three managers, who report to Timoni. “It’s a much flatter management structure,” he says.

Melissa MacCall is responsible for marketing, Internet activities, promotions and co-marketing activities. Karen Andrews is brand manager for Piaggio and Vespa, and Rick Panettieri is brand manager for Aprilia and Moto Guzzi.

At the same, the number of regional sales directors was cut from three to two, and three regional sales directors were dropped, reducing the number of sales directors from 10 to seven.

“We have great opportunity here,” says Timoni. “You notice we didn’t touch our service organization. We thought that would be the best investment we could make now, and we hope dealers appreciate that basically all the infrastructure and organization to support and service them has been untouched. That’s our strategy.”

No other changes are planned for the time being. “That’s all there is,” says Timoni.  JD

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Erpelding, Europe’s Keeper of Classic Race Bikes

September 29, 2009

Are you a racebike enthusiast? Happen to be planning a trip to the Nuerburgring in Germany?

erpeldingIf so, you may want to visit former motorcycle and auto dealer and racer Frithjor Erpelding, a man who claims to have the second largest private museum in Europe dedicated to race motorcycles. Located in the Eifel mountain hamlet of Jammelshofen, near the ‘Ring, the museum houses 200-some bikes and a half-dozen of his championship-winning race cars.

Among the units on display: AJS, Aprilia, Ariel, Bimota, BSA, CZ, Egli, Gilera, NSU, Koenig, Moto Parilla, Moto Guzzi, MV Agusta, Matchless, Maico, Triumph, Norton, Greeves, Jawa, Puch, Wanderer, Harris, BSS, Benelli, Laverda, Royal-Enfield, Harley-Davidson, Horex, Honda, Gilera, Kawasaki, Kreidler, Linto, Suzuki, Scott, Seley, Yamaha, Rickman, KTM, Ducati, Montessa, NSU, Vincent, Velocette and Zuendapp, etc.

I asked Erpelding which of the 200 units is his favorite. “The Norton,” he replied without pause. Erpelding has two Norton Manx. “The chairman of Cambridge University recently contacted me, asking if I would sell one of my Manx. I told him ‘No’. He offered Euro 100,000 and I declined. Then he offered Euro 200,000 and I again declined. Finally, I cut to the chase and told him I wouldn’t be selling the bike no matter what the price.”

MuseumBut, Erpelding is willing to sell certain units. He says he recently sold a Vincent to a collector in the United States for Euro 80,000. “He deposited the check in my bank account before even receiving the bike. I called and asked him why he trusted me, and he said, ‘I’ve heard you’re a trustworthy guy’.”

Erpelding is a fella who loves telling his stories. If you’re planning a visit, be sure to leave time to have beer at his Race Museum Bar. He’ll tell you about his run-ins with racer Agostini and Yamaha bosses; his thoughts on Triumph, MZ and KTM; his trips to Goodwood; and his days of racing Honda motorcycles and cars.

Check out Erpelding’s website, which features the full line-up of the museum’s bikes on display.

Moto Guzzi V7 Classic — GOT ONE!

July 10, 2009

Piaggio USA delivered to me yesterday a brand-spanking new Moto Guzzi V7 Classic and it’s every bit as stylish and ass-kickingly cool as I remember. I’ve been lusting after one of these since I first saw the pics floating around the Internet. And, after saddling up on one at the Long Beach IMS stop, I started pestering the always capable Jeff Perlman over at Brandware (Piaggio’s PR agency) for a test ride. 


Phone pic of the V7 safely ensconced in the secret motorcycle proving grounds at Johnson Manor.

Phone pic of the V7 safely ensconced in the secret motorcycle proving grounds at Johnson Manor.

What does this have to do with the business side of the industry? Not a whole lot, but it does point to Piaggio/Moto Guzzi’s efforts to widen its footprint here in the U.S. with a faithful remake of a much-loved model. Triumph cemented its rebirth with its lineup of modern Bonnevilles and more than one OEM has teased the two-wheel crowd with concept models that echo the very standard profile of motorcycles past. While the riding public may embrace each new trick and tweak of the modern-day motorcycle, there seems to be a spot in most moto-hearts for bikes that look, feel and ride simply like bikes.  

It’s been long slog getting Moto Guzzi reestablished here in America (same for Aprilia, but that’s a completely different story) but Piaggio is gaining ground with models such as the V7, the Griso, the Breva and the Stelvio. Still trying to figure out the market niche for the California Vintage as there several capable cruisers out there on the (soft and smushy) cruiser market. Perhaps it’s the same as with the V7 — the nostalgia crowd.

What will Piaggio’s €150 Million Loan Cover?

December 28, 2008

Piaggio & C. S.p.A. recently obtained a €150 million loan from the European Investment Bank (EIB) to be earmarked for upcoming R&D activities. But which brand will be on the receiving end of this funding, Piaggio, Vespa, Aprilia, Moto Guzzi, Gilera or Derbi?

The Piaggio Group’s six brands revealed nearly a dozen concept bikes at the EICMA show in November.

The Derbi DH 2.0 is one of many recent Piaggio Group prototypes.

The Derbi DH 2.0 is one of many recent Piaggio Group prototypes.

Could the loan amount be going toward the realization of some of those models? Could it be that the funding is to be earmarked for Aprilia’s forthcoming World Superbike race effort? Is it possible Piaggio finally plans to expand its Gilera and Derbi offerings?

What about Moto Guzzi? In November, Piaggio’s Moto Guzzi subsidiary merged into the parent company in a move Piaggio leadership said will help leverage industrial, commercial and financial synergies by “rationalizing” the two companies’ technical, industrial, design and style operations.

Guzzi's operation may be a target for investment

Moto Guzzi's operation may be a target for investment.

Erected in 1921, Moto Guzzi’s production facility in Mandello del Lario, Italy, is aging and situated on a limited parcel of land between a cliff side and Lago di Lecco – the eastern arm of Lake Como. A Dealernews visit in 2007 revealed only half of the facility in use, with the remainder in a darkened state of decay.

So, maybe, the Piaggio/MotoGuzzi merger, plus the recent R&D-related loan, signals a pending revitalization of the Guzzi production process.

What are your thoughts?

Moto Guzzi V7 Classic – want one

December 23, 2008

OK, it’s already been floating around the Internets for a while but I wanted to take a moment to talk about the new Moto Guzzi V7 Classic. Since word first broke about this bike and I got to see the pics, I’ve wanted one. Now that I’ve been able to eye one up and saddle it at the Long Beach IMS stop, I want one even more.

This will be the one sold in the U.S.

This will be the one sold in the U.S.

The specs of the V7 aren’t all that impressive — 48 hp at 6,800 rpm/40 lb. ft. at 3,600 rpm — the aesthetics are. This thing thrives on its classic profile that easily recalls the V7s that preceded it. . Much like some people have a type when it comes to their love interests, I have a type when it comes to motorcycles. The V7 is my type, much like my Thruxton is my type and the old stripped- down ironhead Sportster I used to have was my type (when it ran).

This is the V7 Cafe Classic unveiled in Milan at EICMA. Of course this bike needs clip-ons.

This is the V7 Cafe Classic unveiled in Milan at EICMA. Of course this bike needs clip-ons.

I can’t quite put my finger on it, but there’s something about the profile of all these various machine — oh, and don’t forget Ducati’s Sport Classics — that tweaks my inner design freak. So if everything goes well and the folks over at Brandware Public Relations pull through, I’ll be testing one of these suckers when they hit Piaggio’s West Coast press fleet.

Until then, we’ve got some of the particulars from MG:

The 2009 Moto Guzzi V7 Classic is available at U.S. Moto Guzzi retailers for a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $8,490. The exclusive body color is Moon White, a lustrous pearl white accented with classic Moto Guzzi tank decals.

Four-stroke V 90 twin
744 cc
80 x 74 mm
9.6 : 1
35.5 kW (48 HP) at 6,800 rpm
54.7 Nm at 3,600 rpm
Weber-Marelli electronic fuel injection
Three-way catalytic converter with lambda probe5 speed
Shaft drive, ratio 16/21=1 : 1.3125
Marzocchi 40 mm telescopic front forks
Light alloy swingarm with two hydraulic shock absorbers, pre-load adjustable
5.1” / 4.65”
Floating 320 mm stainless steel disc
four piston opposed calipers of differing diameters
260 mm stainless steel disc
Spoked steel rims
2.5” x 18” / 3.5” x 17”
Metzeler Lasertec 100/90- 18 56HTL Metzeler Lasertec 130/80 -17 65HTL
86” / 31.5” / 43.9”
401.2 lbs
4.5 gallons (reserve 0.7 gallon)
*All current Moto Guzzi motorcycles include a 2 year unlimited-mileage warranty, and 24-hour roadside assistance.