Piaggio Working on a 600cc Aprilia? Gilera?

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This week, the Piaggio group, which owns several brands including Aprilia & Gilera released its 2009-2012 strategic plan, where it told investors that the company intends to develop a range of sports bikes with mid-sized engines for the American market.

What that means exactly is fairly vague, as no other details beyond this simple statment were given, “The Group intends to work on the growth of different brand names, also through the development of sport bikes with mid-sized engines.”

Many have speculated that this means that Aprilia will be releasing a 600cc sport bike to go along side its , and that seems like a fairly logical conclusion.

And then, we remembered this rumor from last year, Gilera 600cc Supersport 2009 Fact or Fiction?

It is possible that rumored 600cc we reported on back in November might have in fact been an Aprilia, and not a Gilera (or someone in Piaggio changed their mind on branding…). The other possibility is even more interesting to us, what if this new middleweight isn’t an Aprilia at all, what if this is Gilera’s entrace into the US market. Afterall, the announcement did also include the provision that it was going to work on growing different brand names. No name in the Piaggio portfolio could use more growing than neglected Gilera.

One advantage of bringing Gilera to the US is that it allows Piaggio to keep the Aprilia mark for Superbike level motorcycles, without diluting it down to 600cc (or…*gasp*…in-line cylinder motors). It would also mean that Piaggio could start anew in the US, with a brand that doesn’t have a wanning dealer network, and a past spotted with shoddy support and difficult to find parts. With an Italian racing petidgree, Gilera still has the chops to cut it as a higher-end, and yet also diminutive, product offering.

The move could also signal a larger shift in the Piaggio Group, with its brands focusing more on core-competencies and tighter market segments. If you’re bored this weekend, try and count how many different Piaggio brands sell scooters.