Now, a Roman Holiday ride with Vespa on Indian roads NEW DELHI: The famous scooter-ride sequence in all-time classic movie Roman Holiday as Joe Bradley (Gregory Peck) loses the helm to the enthusiastic PrincessAnne (Audrey Hepburn) riding a Vespa through the cobbled streets is among the most enduring images in cinematic history. The Crown Princess's fleeting love affair with the American foreign correspondent in the enchanting comedy shot Hepburn to the fame and forever welded Vespas to Rome in the popular imagination. Now, nearly half a century later, the iconic scooter that has kindled romance the world over, is set to ride into India. Piaggio Vehicles Pvt Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Piaggio & Co SpA, Italy, will enter the Indian market on its own for the first time with a range of 125-cc gearless scooters that are technologically a world apart from the one that Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn rode but retain the iconic styling that has been loved for generations. This isn't Vespa's debut in India though, having made two forays into the country through licensed manufacturing with Bajaj Auto in 1960s and LML Motors in 1980s. Back then, the Indian manufacturers had pushed Vespa as an affordable personal transport option when cars were owned by privileged few. This time, however, Piaggio is positioning Vespa as an aspirational luxury and lifestyle product with a rich history to trumpet. It aims to be the creme de-la creme in the 2.5 million Indian scooter market, a classic slot that is occupied by the lines of Harley Davidson and Triumph in motorcycles, Fiat 500, Mini and VW Beetle in cars. "Vespa is a way of life. It is not a mobility product. Scooters come and go. But a Vespa remains forever. It's design is immortal. It is about style and fashion. It is for the brand conscious and discerning. It is about excitement and igniting passion," said Piaggio Vehicles India chairman & managing director Ravi Chopra. Targeted at the young generation who seek to be distinctive and exclusive, Chopra said the Vespa scooters would be meant for people who had either arrived or were about to arrive in life. "Around 18 million Vespas have been sold since inception. India, I am sure, will contribute strongly to the numbers despite being a premium product," he said, adding that there are plans to begin a Vespa club later in the year. The scooters, to be officially launched in April, will be manufactured at a 150,000 capacity per annum plant in Baramati, Maharashtra. The investment made in the venture is around 32 million euro. In the first phase, the scooter will be sold in 35 cities, primarily in north and west India. In the second phase, a couple of months later, more cities will be added in south and east. "We expect the LX 125/150 to be an important offering from Vespa through additional models may be introduced later," Chopra said. Only time though will tell whether Vespa scooters will be able to weave their charm in the two-wheeler market that is overwhelmingly dominated by motorcycles.