Thursday, 25 June 2009

Italy's Piaggio starts to make Vespas in Vietnam

HANOI, June 25 (Reuters) - Italian scooter maker Piaggio SpA (PIA.MI) has begun production at its first plant in Vietnam, making inroads into one of the world's largest scooter markets.

Piaggio plans to sell up to 50,000 Vespas a year from its $30 million factory in the northern province of Vinh Phuc, near the capital Hanoi, the Vietnamese government said in a report.

Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai said Piaggio should use Vietnam as a production hub for the Asian market.

The scooter maker said it planned to sell its signature Vespa LX 125 at $3,450 in Vietnam, nearly triple the price of the Japanese Honda Dream, the country's most popular two-wheeler, but about 70 percent of the cost of made-in-Italy LX 125s already widely sold in Vietnam.

Motorcycles are still the dominant means of transport in the Southeast Asian country of 86 million people.

The Ministry of Industry and Trade has forecast the number of motorcycles would rise to 35 million by 2015 from 25 million now.

Total motorcycle sales in 2007 were 2.5 million units, more than 1 million of which were from Honda Motor Co (7267.T), according to data from motorcycle association VABOMA. The total was up from 2.2 million in 2006. Data for 2008 was not available.

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