Piaggio Hybrid Scooters – First Look

3 Feb 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on Piaggio Hybrid Scooters – First Look
motorcycle Honda Numa Hybrid

Piaggio Hybrid Scooters – First Look Dump that gas-guzzling Prius.

Remember when filling the gas tank on your bike cost four dollars? That will probably never happen again (unless you have a one-gallon tank), but last year Piaggio announced it was testing some prototype hybrid scooters. Since then, Piaggio’s technicians have gone a few steps farther, honing the power unit and related electronic-management systems and installing them in their super-stable MP3 three-wheeler.

This 250cc prototype, dubbed the MP3 HyS (for “Hybrid Scooter”), is the largest hybrid they’ve tested so far; the previous prototypes were based on the tiny Vespa LX50 and middleweight Piaggio X8 125.

The production MP3 HyS will use the same 125cc/electric hybrid powerplants as the smaller X8 HyS, but its structure and surefooted chassis will better handle the extra mass and weight of the large battery pack and other ancillaries. At this stage the battery pack still uses heavy lead-acid cells, but Piaggio is hard at work with specialists in the battery industry to obtain reliable and cost-effective lithium-ion batteries. These should have 40 percent less mass and weight.

The rest of the project is almost finalized and has been tested to the point that Piaggio confirmed to me that they will put their MP3 125 HyS into production by the end of 2008.

They also let me test the three different hybrid scooters they’ve developed so far. Of these, the most interesting were the tiny Vespa LX50 HyS and the MP3 HyS. Power comes from the standard internal-combustion engine teamed to a 2-hp electric motor, which is tidily inserted in the hub of the rear wheel so that the standard CVT transmission can remain in place.

motorcycle Honda Numa Hybrid

The two power sources work in parallel and the pilot can select the operation mode best suited to his needs by simply rotating a rheostat in the dashboard. In full-on two-motor mode, performance increases can reach up to 85 percent, primarily on acceleration, when the electric unit delivers gobs of extra torque.

So, the tiny Vespa LX50 HyS performs like its conventionally powered LX125 brother, while delivering up to 142 mpg and producing only 40 grams of CO² per kilometer. On battery power alone it can go 12 miles at 15 mph, although the true benefit of the electric motor is to boost performance and mileage, not function as the sole powerplant. The extra weight from the lead batteries—placed high in the underseat compartment—does take its toll in terms of agility and steering response, but the throttle response is incredible for a 50cc four-stroke.

When the MP3 HyS goes into production, the test mule’s “thirsty” 250cc internal-combustion motor will be replaced with a 125, which in the lighter, two-wheeled X8 HyS accelerates like a 250 while returning tremendous fuel economy and 12 miles of electric-only propulsion at 25 mph. The system is surprisingly pleasant and functional, and offers a clean, quiet and safe transportation option to city commuters. If the HyS uses the 3.2-gallon tank the standard MP3 does, you’ll still pay more than $4 to fill ’er up, but you’ll do it a lot less often then before.

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