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Here Come the Italians: Piaggio to Open Design Center in Pasadena, CA

At a dealer meeting held yesterday in Miami, Florida, Piaggio Group Chairman and CEO Roberto Colaninno announced that the Piaggio Group, owners of Moto Guzzi, Aprilia, Vespa scooters and Piaggio scooters, among other brands, will soon open an Advanced Design Center in Pasadena, California. The Center will be headed by famed designer Miguel Galluzzi. It was also announced that the liquid cooled Moto Guzzi California 1400 (pictured) will go on sale in the U.S. this Fall.

Here is the full press release from Piaggio:

Miami (USA), 14 March 2012 – The Piaggio Group is to open an Advanced Design Center in the USA, in Pasadena, California. The announcement was made yesterday in Miami by Group Chairman and CEO Roberto Colaninno, during the Piaggio Group Americas convention attended by more than three hundred US and Canadian dealers and the Piaggio Group distributors based in South America.

The Piaggio Group Advanced Design Center will be headed by Miguel Galluzzi, a designer born in Argentina and raised in the USA, whose projects in Italy include some of the most celebrated motorbikes of the last twenty years: the Ducati Monster, the Cagiva Raptor, the Aprilia RSV4, winner of the 2010 Superbike World Championship, and the brand new Moto Guzzi California 1400, due to be launched on the market in the fall of 2012. The California center will work closely with the Piaggio Group Style Center headed by Marco Lambri, and the Group R&D centers in Italy, China, India and Vietnam.

“Setting up a research center in California opens a window on the changes that will be taking place in our society, way of life, and urban and metropolitan mobility models in the next few years,” said Roberto Colaninno. “This year we are ramping up our international growth,” added the Piaggio Group Chairman and CEO, “and consistently with the expansion of our industrial and commercial operations around the world, we are also implementing an “intelligence globalization” policy to create an international system of competences and research in the areas of product marketing and style. A few weeks ago, our Mantua location opened a product marketing center with a team of young marketing managers from all the Piaggio Group European
and Asian locations. The new Advanced Design Center in Pasadena will be working not only at the cutting edge of style developments, but will also be cooperating with the world’s top universities and research centers.”

During the Piaggio Group convention in Florida, Roberto Colaninno and Miguel Galluzzi provided the Piaggio Group Americas dealers with an overview of research and development in mobility technology. Work in the Pasadena center will cover all Group product lines and include projects studying solutions employing new energy accumulation technology and aerospace materials, for development of innovative emission-free engines using alternative energies.

The Piaggio Group Americas convention provided the stage for the American preview of some of the most important motorcycles due to be making their market debuts in 2012 and 2013. The bikes include the new maxi enduro Aprilia Caponord 1200 and the Moto Guzzi California 1400, a stunning “cruiser” scheduled for a fall launch – with an international press launch in the USA – with the name of a bike that established Moto Guzzi as a worldwide brand. The event was attended by the Aprilia riders in the 2012 Superbike World Championship, five-times world champion Max Biaggi – the current leader in the SBK champions table – and Northern Ireland’s Eugene Laverty.

On the American scooter market, which displayed interesting signs of recovery in 2011 (a 6% increase in vehicle registrations from 2010), Piaggio Group Americas has made significant progress in penetration, with market share rising from 27.1% to almost 30%, for shipments of 10,300 scooters (+63.8% on 2010) and revenues of 35.4 million euro (+53.0%).

In 2011, the various versions of the Vespa LX notched up more than 5,300 shipments in the USA, becoming the best-selling European two-wheeler in the USA. In 2011, the Piaggio Group also reported 26% growth in sales on the US motorcycle market; in Canada, Piaggio Group Americas raised its scooter market share to 28% and reported a 103% increase in sales volumes on the Canadian two-wheeler market (scooters and motorbikes).


  1. vagrant says:

    after 9 Guzzi’s i can say this one looks very overweight. i sure hope i’m wrong. can’t say a lot for the looks either would have rather had a throughly modern EV with 100 HP and 90 foot lbs. torque and a six speed. my old Coppa Itallia drive train would suiy me fine. it doesn’t need to be $14,000 either. there are enough heavy weight Harleys and HD clones already.

  2. MSJ says:

    I like the way this looks – a good, solid, power-cruiser genre bike. EXCEPT: I’ve been seeing pics of this tank for some time, and I really don’t like it. I’d also prefer a more traditional looking headlight. But I like much of what I’m seeing here. The comments about the vulnerability of that radiator/oil cooler deserve consideration, though.

  3. Hair says:

    When people talk about Italian design the word “Sexy” always is in the conversation.

    But this bike reminds me of one of those 28” pizza. Or that 64oz steak that some restaurant use in there, “If you can eat this it’s free” ad.

  4. LarryC says:

    Does this mean they are going to take the US market seriously? Maybe they will even establish some semblance of a dealer network? I hope they don’t franchise a bunch of boutique dealerships that will be gone tomorrow. They may just have take back seat in some big 4 dealer’s showrooms until they get a bigger toehold. The product is there, but many are unfamiliar with it. Others don’t trust Piaggio. Demanding too much floorspace or requiring larger orders than franchises can sell is the best way to scare potential dealers off.

  5. S Calwell says:

    I like it. The clean, modern/retro look is so much fresher than the Harley clones and Triumph or BMW’s attempt at cruisers.

  6. Tom says:

    If this was a Harley guys would be gushing about how great it looks.

  7. George Krpan says:

    I like twin pipes but those are cartoonish, like someting you’d see on a Whoreley.
    The shrouding on the fork looks retro and cool.

    SoCal is a good place for the design center. There are tons of riders there who ride all year round.

  8. Dave says:

    The cylinders are not causing a gas tank explosion

  9. Tom says:

    I am a Guzzi fan, but, V7 model aside, I wish they could turn out bikes that the average American can afford. Say, south of $10,000.

  10. Gary says:

    Is that a radiator or an oil cooler? If oil, it’s the biggest I’ve seen. Whichever, it looks perfectly positioned to be clobbered by road debris.

    • BoxerFanatic says:

      Seems like a radiator, but it is significantly lower than the heads, with not a whole lot of space behind the radiator in front of the engine block. Hope it has a good fan and air escape space.

  11. Gary says:

    I hope they invest in some engineering as well as some design. Designers wrap fuel tanks around cylinder heads because there are no engineers around to tell them that gas explodes when exposed to enough heat.

    • hank says:

      gee, you think they started engineering bikes yesterday? My V11 wraps around the heads and haven’t blown up yet! hehe. In fact, the longer she runs in one seating, the better she runs

      Internet commentary blows!

  12. falcodoug says:

    A Harley or this? This

  13. Bob says:

    Not sure why companies think that if you are going to have a “design center” that it HAS to be in California. I think someone at Piaggio simply wanted to buy a house in SoCal, then be able to write it off as a business expense.

  14. munster says:

    What they should be doing is trying to figure out how to SELL bikes. Their marketshare in the U.S. is a joke, just like their bikes.

    • Scotty says:

      Joke bikes do very well in fact are market leaders in the US!!!

    • Bob says:

      1 location in south Texas. They have models that are 6 years old on the floor. None that are newer than 2 year old. And they only have 8 units that no one is really interested in. No Griso, no Stelvio. They really do need to figure out how to market their bikes here.

  15. Larry says:

    Needs apes.

  16. Ziggy says:

    Nice suits boys. But seriously, that bike is a boring blob of suckieness.

  17. Kjazz says:

    Yeah, let’s put it in America so that they can take all the “Italian” out of this great Italian design house. ??!@#%$%

    This bike looks like a two-wheeled Buick Roadmaster. Not that there’s anything wrong with a Buick Roadmaster, I’d like to have a nice one. But this bike appears to OUTWEIGH a Buick Roadmaster….. which cant be a good thing.

  18. grebmrof says:

    Think this new Guzzi should be nick named “Porky”. I wish them luck with this one, I think they have outdone the Centauro and the Griso with Porky!

  19. Dave G says:

    FINALLY.. A Guzzi cruiser that doesn’t look like it was designed 30 years ago. I love the classic Guzzi police cruiser style, but sheeeesh..enough. I loved my 2002 LeMans.. This makes me want to get back in the Guzzi camp again.

  20. Guzzi owners are different. They are really emotionally connected to their Guzzis. But this bike is fugly.

  21. Nomadak says:

    Excited to see this. If people only knew how great these bikes are, they’d be snapping them up. With a stinger presence and a dealer network, there would be no stopping Piaggio models (Aprilia, Moto Guzzi, Vespa)

  22. Frank L says:

    I guess everybody is entitled to their opinion. I think it’s great looking. I remember the ‘California’ model as the retro model the Guzzi lineup. For many years Guzzi left it exactly as the 1960’s Moto Guzzi police models looked. Now it’s completely up-to-date. Thank you Moto Guzzi!

  23. AndrewF says:

    The first job for that new design center could be a redesign of Guzzi California 1400 which looks like a large mostly shapeless lump in the first picture above, and like a bad photoshop of two different bikes in the side view!

    • hank says:

      there does appear to be 2 bikes in one. The back half needs re-worked. The front half is good, for a cruiser

  24. vato_loco_frisco says:

    That’s good news but where in Pasadena will the new design center be located? In a strip mall between a Vietnamese nail salon and an Armenian take-out joint? BTW, that MG California 1400 looks pretty nice, if a bit overdone.