Piaggio (Piaggio & c. SpA) is a large Italian producer of mopeds, scooters and motorcycles. Several European motorcycle and scooter brands belong to the Piaggio Group.
The company was founded in Genoa in 1884 by the then 20-year old Rinaldo Piaggio. Initially, he focused on the establishment of the luxury ships that were built in Genoa. Piaggio, however, soon focused on other markets. The company built steam machines e.g. for sawing and later also produced rail carriages (1908), motor boats and even large aircraft (1915). The biggest renewal that Piaggio introduced in those days was the cabin pressurization for aircraft. Rinaldo Piaggio died in 1938, and left his two factories (in Pisa and Pontederea) to his sons Enrique and Armando Piaggio.
In 1946 the first scooter was built, which because of its soft zoom and slim waist was called Vespa (Wasp). In 1946 a whopping 2.181 Vespas were built; These units were sold by dealers of the car brand Lancia. In the present day, there are over 15 million Vespas in existence worldwide.
Piaggio started producing cars in 1958. Although sales were reasonable in France and Germany, the much larger Fiat was afraid to loose their market share in small family cars. In 1959 this matter was by a marriage between a daughter of the piaggio family and a member of the Agnelli (Fiat) family. After being fully included in the Fiat Group, Piaggio made itself free in the late 90s. Since then, the company remained independent.
In 1964, the Piaggio company was split between the two brothers. Enrique would fully deal with Piaggio scooters, motorcycles and mopeds. His brother Armando (d. 1965) focused on the production of aircraft.
Nowadays, the company is the main producer of Piaggio scooters (Piaggio, Vespa and Gilera in particular), as well as one of the major motorcycle manufacturers (Moto Guzzi, Aprilia). Well-known scooter Piaggio models include the Vespa GTS, Fly and the Zip. Probably the most notable model is the MP3, a three-wheel implementation.