Founded by Rinaldo Piaggio in 1884, Piaggio initially manufactured locomotives and train cars. During the First World War the company focused on aircraft manufacturing.

During World War II, the company manufactured fighter jets, but Piaggio emerged from the war with its Pontedera plant completely demolished by the bombings. The affected Italian economy and the painful state of the roads did not help the revival of the automobile market. Enrico Piaggio, the son of the founder of Piaggio, decided to leave the aeronautical sector in order to meet the urgent Italian need for a modern and at the same time economic means of transport. The idea was to design a cheap vehicle for the masses.

The aeronautical engineer Corradino D’Ascanio, responsible for the design and construction of the first modern Agusta helicopter, was chosen by Enrico Piaggio to design a simple, robust and economical vehicle. The vehicle had to be easy to drive for both men and women, it had to be able to carry a passenger (in addition to the driver), and not allow dirt on the driver’s clothing. Consequently, in 1946 Piaggio launched the Vespa scooter (Vespa = Italian term for “wasp”), and in 10 years more than one million units were manufactured.

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