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In its annual report released today, Piaggio states that it plans to close Derbi’s historic factory in Barcelona, transferring production to Piaggio’s Italian operations. The move comes just two months after Yamaha closed its Spanish factory too. All this is very bad news for the Spanish motorcycle industry and Spanish workers. The country currently has 21 percent unemployment and suppliers like Showa Spain will now have no clients for their products.

In the report, Piaggio states:

“At the meeting the Piaggio Board of Directors approved plans to restructure current production operations in Spain at the Martorelles factory (Barcelona) of the subsidiary Nacional Motor S.A.U.. The project provides for production operations to be transferred to the Piaggio Group’s Italian factories. In addition to rationalising the Group production network in Europe, guaranteeing greater efficiency and productivity, the move will strengthen the competitiveness of Derbi vehicles to support the growth of the Spanish brand’s market share.”

The Mulhacen is a 659cc single-cylinder street tracker. Utterly unique, of the moment and desirable. Presence within a larger brand would help this thing sell.

Spanish unions are fighting the move. According to them they have an agreement with Piaggio which guarantees employment for the remainder of the year. The Catalan government appears to agree, with politicians understandably taking the side of their constituents. However, such a case could, at best, hope only to delay the move.

Note the GPR's frame, brakes, suspension and other components. You'll see them on the US-bound Aprilia RS4 125 later this year.

Michael Uhlarik, who used to run a design studio in Spain, provides some context, “Derbi is a historic brand, having formed after the Spanish civil war as a producer of bicycles in 1939.  Over the years, it became known as a manufacturer of fast, small displacement motorcycles, winning numerous Grand Prix world championships in the 50 and 125cc classes, most recently in 2008.  The company was bought by the Piaggio Group in 2008, and rejuvenated with high quality, design-focused 125 and 250cc street bikes, including the Senda line, Mulhacen and GPR.”

The Senda is a 125cc supermoto or dual sport. Nice-looking, ain't it? Euro teens go crazy for bikes like this.

Derbi produced 19,000 scooters and motorcycles last year, most of which were simply re-badged and re-designed Aprilia or Piaggio models. The three notable exceptions were the GPR, Senda and Mulhacen, as Michael notes above. The usual flow of product re-designes was reversed last year when Aprilia showed the RS4 125, which is actually a Derbi GPR under the RSV4-alike bodywork. Without a strong brand presence outside of Spain, could we see the Senda and Mulhacen re-badged too?

Sources: Piaggio, El Pais, La Vanguardia

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