Vespa Unveils Two Hybrid Scooters
By James Grahame
Retro Thing's 2006 April Fool's post gave the low-down on a mythical Vespa hybrid scooter. In a strange case of reality echoing fiction, Vespa's parent company Piaggio is now testing a couple of prototype HyS hybrid gasoline/electric scooters in Milan.
The company has developed two versions, based on their Vespa LX 50 (shown above, with 50cc gas & 1000W electric motor) and the more sleek and powerful Piaggio X8 125 (125cc gas & 2500W electic motor). The combination of electric and gas engines provides approximately 25% more power, helping to alleviate fuel consumption when starting or accelerating. It also reduces gasoline consumption by 20%. The scooter can also operate in locations where combustion engine fumes would be undesirable (inside buildings or covered areas) by switching into a low-speed "electric only" mode.
The vehicle can charge its batteries from the gasoline motor while traveling at normal road speeds. It can also be connected to a standard 220V (European) household plug to recharge the electric cells in about three hours. Plugging in your scooter reduces operating costs by about half, versus the gasoline only version. Two 12V 26Ah batteries are located under the LX 50 HyS seat, where riders usually store a helmet (the added rear luggage pod is intended to replace the lost storage space). The X8 includes three 12V 26Ah batteries while still offering sufficient under-seat space for a single helmet.
Preview of the Vepsa Hybrid (auto-translated from Italian)