The Piaggio Group announced it has secured a €60 million (US$77.6 million) financing deal with the European Investment Bank to fund the development of new products.
The seven-year loan will fund research and development projects at Piaggio’s Italian facilities. The loan is in addition to investments Piaggio already budgeted for the period from 2013 to 2015 to develop new products. The new research and development projects will focus on three fields: safety, fuel-efficient combustion engines and alternative fuel technologies.
For safety, Piaggio will be working on active, passive and preventative safety measures. This is especially important in light of recent legislation enacted by the European Parliament to make ABS mandatory for motorcycles and scooters with engines larger than 125cc by 2016. Piaggio has already gotten a start toward that goal, gradually adding ABS to models such as the 2013 Aprilia RSV4 R and RSV4 Factory.
Piaggio has also started outfitting its larger scooters with both ABS and traction control. The Piaggio Beverly 350 was the first scooter to receive both technologies, with other models such as the Piaggio X10, Aprilia SRV850 and the new Vespa 946 all getting the ABS and traction control.
Like most manufacturers, Piaggio hopes to continue improving the fuel efficiency of its internal combustion engines. The new Vespa engine used in the 946 and the 2012 LX and S models claims a 30% improvement on fuel economy over previous engines thanks to a new three-valve timing system and reduced friction in its timing rockers and camshaft. The new R&D investment should help further improve engine efficiency for more Piaggio models.
As for alternative fuel technologies, Piaggio will continue to develop its hybrid drive systems, first introduced on the Piaggio MP3 Hybrid. Piaggio also plans to explore new electric drive technologies and other alternatives to fossil fuels.