- Gepubliceerd: zaterdag 16 april 2016 09:08
- Geschreven door René
In retrospect: Puch failed in Piaggio's hands, because of critical wrong thinking.
You can't blaim them for it, it is something rooted deeply in Italian culture. Italians are proud people and well known for their design. Nothing wrong with that. But when a moped is successful in Northern Europe, then don't try to change it with South European styling or even marketing. That's where Puch and Piaggio split roads; that's where it went wrong.
Surely, Piaggio bought Puch to make money. They did so, by creating cheaper production methods. No more basic coating, no longer 3 layers of paint, no dents pressed in the tank, they even put plastic caps over the flywheel, which melted promptly, so they turned that desicion back. Making money meant cheaper production and higher prices in the store. Not a good thing for a quality brand as Puch was. The second critial thinking error was models. Puch had a huge share in the Northern Europe markets, and Piaggio would have loved to own that percentage.
To simplify production even more, models were just rebranded for local markets. Easy as pie, they thought. They were wrong... Owners of a Puch, like Zündapp and Kreidler were too, were proud owners. They loved the own identity of the brands and models. Piaggio decided to ignore that emotional binding completely and introduce the same models just with another brandname.It worked for the Vespa Ciao and Si, which later became the Piaggio Ciao and Si, so why not with Puch?
Of all the rebranded suggestions i have seen, the only one worthy of rebranding was the Gilera Bullit as the Puch Bullit. Even in Italy itself customers thought that the Puch look and colors on the Bullit were much more likeable that the Gilera ones. But that was it. At first, the Dutch importer tried to suggest the Gilera Citta as becoming the new Puch model. I opposed strongly. The Bullit was too expensive for the Dutch market with 4.000 guilders, if it had been produced. The Scatto was considered too old a design, so that was skipped aswel.
The new Zip and Typhoon were accepted as Puch in the Netherlands, with big success. Only problem was, that after 1994, many Dutch had gone on vacation in Italy, where they saw the Zip and Typhoon as the reál brandname it was: Piaggio and Gilera. The Puch NRG was the last success as a rebranded scooter, people noticed it as a copy, not being an original Puch. With the Maxi model completely transformed into unrecognizable and overpriced Z-Two, Zap and Zentih models, and the Radical and Custom being way too expensive, the Italians were in a ditch effort to revive the brand, but again: same critical thinking error.
Enter the Puch P1-Tre: a rebadged Piaggio Vespino F9 moped. An ultralight scootermodel for a reasonable price.
(left: Puch P1-Tre, right: Piaggio Vespino F9)
The quality of the P1-Tre was good, but it did not radiate a Puch feeling with customers. It was marketed poorly and lasted only one year on the Dutch market, considered a failure. The Vespino F9 didn't come to the Netherlands, but it's successor did, the Velofax. The P1-Tre didn't work, because the Italians didn't do their homework in studying the Dutch market and it's customers. The identity of Puch was getting lost. By that time, i already was away from Puch, with bitter feelings.
The Maxi (in all it's renamed shapes and forms) was nearing it's end of life, and still no good successor was found. Puch was losing it's grip on the Dutch marketplace fast...