by Steve Bauer
LAKE COMO, Italy — After several years of on-again, off-again management and production changes, Moto Guzzi seems to have found steady ground after being purchased by the Piaggio Group in 2004.
During the reorganization that year, the company shut down operations, changed management and reorganized its production process, eventually returning slowly to the market in 2005.
“We are very excited about the technological and manufacturing resources that the Piaggio Group rings to Moto Guzzi,” said Daniele Torresan, head of Moto Guzzi’s communication department, at the company’s manufacturing facility in Lake Como, Italy. “What occurred in 2004 was a necessity in many ways, and it allowed us to refocus on creating product that lives up to the historic Guzzi name.”
After the Piaggio Group purchased Guzzi, sales tumbled as the flow of machines and parts ground to a halt. The company says 2006 was a “recovery year” that allowed Guzzi to improve its parts distribution, which had been extremely inefficient in the past. The company now claims a 90 percent-plus fill rate, and vehicle distribution and technical support systems also have been revamped.
“We know there were a lot of problems with the efficiency side of our production process, but we’re confident those issues have now been resolved,” Torresan said. “If you look at our fill rate only, it’s jumped tremendously over 2005, so that’s a good indicator of where our focus is regarding our manufacturing process.”
As testament to Moto Guzzi’s new direction, Torresan points to sales figures for 2007, which are up 18 percent over the same period in 2006, which the company says is due largely to sales of its sport tourer, the Norge.
With two new products ready for launch in 2008, including the company’s highly anticipated Stelvio motorcycle, Torresan says sales expectations are even higher for next year and beyond.
“We have very lofty sales expectations for 2008, and with the release of two new models, there’s no reason why we can’t improve greatly on our sales figures from 2007,” he said.
“Now that we have the Piaggio Group’s backing both financially and also on the technology and manufacturing side, we will continue to research and develop new product that will allow our sales to grow even more.”
Growing dealer network
One of Moto Guzzi’s biggest and most daunting goals for 2008 is to revitalize its U.S. and European dealer networks with the assistance of the Piaggio Group.
Moto Guzzi has managed to double its dealer network to 112 since 2004, and Torresan says the company would like to double it again in the next two-three years.
“Roughly half of Moto Guzzi dealers carry Aprilia as well, so combining these two well known brand names, along with Piaggio’s extensive vehicle lineup, is an important part of growing our network,” he said. “We’re working off a small marketing budget, so our immediate focus is to stay local, such as providing demo rides at dealerships, generating good buzz and word-of-mouth, along with building consumer awareness of the quality and history that each Moto Guzzi bike carrries with it.”
by Steve Bauer