Italian auto major Piaggio’s Indian subsidiary Piaggio Vehicles on Monday launched an all-new new passenger three-wheeler Ape NXT+ at an introductory showroom price of Rs 2.35 lakh.
The indigenously researched and developed Ape NXT+ three-wheeler in petrol, CNG and LPG variants will cater to the last-mile mobility in the urban space, Piaggio Vehicle Pvt Ltd (PVPL) said.
PVPL, which is one of the major players in the domestic small commercial vehicle space, is the only fuel agonistic three-wheeler brand in India, offering its passenger and cargo carriers in petrol, diesel, CNG, LPG as well as electric versions.
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The next-generation high mileage three-wheeler for urban Indian last-mile mobility solution, giving an industry best fuel efficiency of up to 50 km/KG for the CNG version, offers substantial acquisition cost benefits along with the best in the market cost of ownership, the company said.
Though there are no Covid-related restrictions, issues such as higher vehicle cost, difficulty in availing finances and the cost of fuel remain a challenge for the passenger three-wheeler segment, Diego Graffi, chairman and managing Director at PVPL, told PTI.
“We had seen good recovery until March this year then again the demand has been quite depressed in the April-June period. That is why we are launching this product, as we feel that CNG is definitely going to support and sustain demand for both cargo and passenger space at least in the next 3-5 years,” Graffi said.
CNG-powered three-wheelers currently account for half of the company’s total volume and the diesel three-wheelers demand stood at less than 20 per cent of the pre-pandemic levels, he said, adding that Piaggio has also seen an increase in electric vehicle penetration.
“At Piaggio, we are thrilled to launch another three-wheeler passenger vehicle with CNG, LPG and Petrol fuel variants. The rising demand for alternative fuel options and the need to control pollution is giving an impetus to CNG-powered vehicles,” said Diego Graffi, chairman and managing Director at PVPL.
The Indian government is taking path-breaking steps to promote alternate fuel options which, in turn, is also helping OEMs like Piaggio to innovate with their product portfolio to cater to larger customers, he added.
The new Ape NXT+ is designed and developed in India for the Indian market and will also be exported to markets overseas, Graffi said, adding that “with the launch of Ape NXT+, we aim to further strengthen our position in the alternate fuel segment space”.
Besides fuel efficiency, the latest offering from the Piaggio also comes with features such as segment-first tubeless tyres, best-in-class seating space, an attractive front fascia with bezel for headlamps, beige coloured dashboard and dual-tone seats and a newly designed canopy with transparent windows for enhanced visibility, PVPL said.
The cost of fuel, including diesel, petrol and CNG, has reached a level never seen before, which is making customers a little bit hesitant in buying a new vehicle, Graffi said.
“With the increase in the fuel costs, we understood our customers’ need for higher mileage with a cost-saving approach. The new Ape provides the highest in class fuel efficiency, higher comfort, and more space with minimal maintenance costs.
“The 3-valve technology engine is designed for powerful pickup and exceptional driving experience. We believe that with the CNG network increasing in many cities in India, the Ape NXT+ will help us deliver that extra value to the customers who have been looking for a new CNG product in the market,” said
Saju Nair, EVP and head of domestic CV (ICE) Business CV (ICE) business and retail finance at Piaggio India Pvt Ltd.