Every business will need a commercial vehicle at some point. This ‘trep is in a position to offer enterprises their first one.
When starting a business, a motor vehicle (whether motorcycle, car, van, or truck) is usually in the “nice to have” column, not the “must have” side. But for some enterprises, having a commercial vehicle is absolutely essential, thus the question for entrepreneurs is not what vehicle they want, but what they can afford.
Willy Q. Tee Ten thinks he may just have the vehicle for them. The founder and president of The Autohub Group, a conglomerate of automotive dealerships and service companies, is bringing in several models of the Piaggio Apé for the local market as a versatile alternative to tricycles, minicabs, and even trucks.
Piaggio, of course, is the iconic Italian scooter brand that Tee Ten exclusively distributes through Autohub’s MotoItalia Philippines Inc. But this Apé is no gorilla; it’s also the Italian word for honeybee (pronounced ah-peh), and like that hardworking insect these three-wheelers can weave through tight spaces (read: city streets) while carrying out a variety of tasks, much like the first Apés produced in postwar Italy starting in 1948.
Tee Ten struck on the idea of importing the Apé—essentially a Piaggio Vespa with two rear wheels and a cabin—on a tour of Europe in August 2011. “While having snacks at a food junction near Wolfgang University in Frankfurt, I noticed lots of Italian versions of our ‘multicabs’ and upscale versions of our ‘jolly jeeps,’” he says. Surprised that each vehicle carried the Piaggio badge, Tee Ten decided it would be right to bring the diesel-powered Apé to the Philippines, where tricycles and their gasoline-fueled kin rule.
Initially offering four variants—passenger, drop-side, closed van, and cab and chassis—and all having single-cylinder four-stroke 435 cc diesel engines, MotoItalia Philippines launched the Apé at the Manila International Auto Show last March. Apart from the prestige of the Piaggio brand, what could attract ‘treps to the Apé is its price: from just under P200,000 to about P250,000, says Tee Ten.