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Piaggio Launches Two Plug-In Hybrid Vespa Scooters

14 April 2006

Vespa_lx_50_hys_04
The Vespa LX50 HyS.

Piaggio, the Italian manufacturer of the iconic Vespa scooter, has introduced two plug-in hybrid prototypes based on the standard Vespa LX 50 and X8 125 models.

The HyS (Hybrid Scooter) models are parallel hybrids, combining four-stroke combustion engines with electric motors. The electric motor provides power assist, supplying a 25% boost in power for acceleration over the first few meters (a good feature for lunging through urban traffic), while at the same time supporting a 20% decrease in fuel consumption.

The rider uses all the normal controls (accelerator, brakes and additional handlebar commands) as well as a specific switch to choose one of four operating modes:

  • Standard hybrid
  • High-charge hybrid
  • Low-charge hybrid
  • Electric-only
Piaggio_x8_125_hys_05
A close-up of the HyS system on the X8 HyS.

In the first three modes the HyS manages power output from the engine and the motor using a drive-by-wire type system. The electronic management system interprets the rider’s request for more torque and selects the assist ratio based on the battery’s state of charge.

Regenerative braking recharges the batteries.

In standard-hybrid mode the battery charge is maintained at optimal traction levels (batteries at 75%). The high-charge hybrid function is geared to maximize the range of the electric motor (batteries at 95%).

If, on the other hand, the rider wishes to recharge the batteries using the 220V battery charger by plugging into a power outlet, he or she can use the low-charge hybrid mode (batteries at 20%) to obtain maximum performance with minimum consumption. (Charging time is about three hours.)

In electric-only mode, the Piaggio HyS shuts down the combustion engine and turns into a silent, zero-emission electric vehicle—an important consideration for those European cities that are increasingly placing restrictions on emitting vehicles.

The control system not only manages the combined power output of the engine and motor, but also forces the engine to work when it can be most efficient, thereby reducing specific consumption, with advantages in terms of lower consumption and emissions.

The traction batteries are hidden in the under-seat storage space, which is sufficiently large on the X8 125 HyS to also hold a helmet. The Vespa LX 50 HyS hybrid prototype comes with a top case to hold the helmet.

Hybrid Vespas
  Vespa LX50 HyS X8 125 HyS
Engine Single-cylinder Piaggio Hi-Per 50cc, 4-stroke, 2-valve Single cylinder Piaggio Leader 125cc, 4 stroke, 4 valve
Motor/generator 1 kW 2.5 kW
Distance range Up to 20 km (at 25 km/h) Up to 20 km (at 35 km/h)
Batteries 2 standard 12V, 26Ah batteries for a total of 24V, 26Ah 3 standard 12V, 26Ah batteries for a total of 36V, 26Ah

(A hat-tip to stomv!)

April 14, 2006 in Emissions, Europe, Hybrids, Personal Transit, Plug-ins | Permalink | Comments (31) | TrackBack (3)

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Vespa has announced a hybrid electric motorscooter. Vespa has been making motorscooters for decades and their scooter is in many ways the one others mimic. See: Vespa Unveils Hybrid Scooters (Tree Hugger), and Piaggio Launches Two Plug-In Hybrid Vespa S [Read More]

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Plug-in hybrid scooters from Piaggio [Read More]

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Comments

Hybrids make no sense economically to buy. The premium you pay takes years and years to make up for the gas saved. Sure there's some tax benefits but who really thinks of those. The reason people buy hybrids instead of well tuned Honda Civics is that they think they're getting away with something. Everytime they break they know they are accruing energy and feel an emotional rush from having "cheated the system" in their minds.

This is why plug-ins will make the hybrid boom look small by comparison. People will love plugging in their cars, thinking they're getting cheap energy while all the other suckers have to pay at the pump. They'll get a psychic rush everytime they pass a gas station and realize they don't have to stop.

Performance cars make no sense economically to buy. The extra power you get can never be used in real world driving without breaking a law. Sure you can go to race track but who actually go. The reason people buy performance car instead of well tuned Honda Civics is that they think they're getting away with something. Everytime they drive they know they can actually outperform other cars on a roady and feel an emotional rush from having "best car on a road" in their minds.

This is why exotic sports cars would make the regular sport car look small by comparison. People will love their cars, thinking they're getting the best of the best aceleration from red light while all the other suckers would smell their dust. They'll get a psychic rush everytime they acelerate and realize they don't have to stop.

If you guys want I can rewrite this comment to reflect SUV buyers. Personally I preffer people getting "psychic rush everytime they pass a gas station and realize they don't have to stop" rather then getting rush from speeding. FYI majority of the cars sold in US are impulse or emotional buy for one reason or another.

^ With all due respect, you're wrong, many times over.

The premium you pay takes years and years to make up for the gas saved

The payback period varies widely, as a function of (number of miles driven per year), price of gas over that entire timeline, assorted add'l benefits (free parking in some munipalities, access to HOV lanes, etc). In some cases, the payback period, including adjusting for present value, inflation, etc., is less than 5 years. The hybrid makes pure financial sense for many people.

Sure there's some tax benefits but who really thinks of those.

Surely you jest. The tax breaks are a big part of the equation, and I can assure you that folks are taking that tax break into account when they consider purcasing the vehicle.

The reason people buy hybrids instead of well tuned Honda Civics is that they think they're getting away with something. Everytime they break they know they are accruing energy and feel an emotional rush from having "cheated the system" in their minds.

OK, now I just think you're strange. There's a huge difference between "cheating the system" and good old fashioned Yankee frugality. American history, going back 400 years, includes conservation and frugality as fundamental components of the economy. It's only in the past 20 or 30 years that this has been less emphasized. In a sense, part of this frugality is a moral issue, not a financial one.

This is why plug-ins will make the hybrid boom look small by comparison. People will love plugging in their cars, thinking they're getting cheap energy while all the other suckers have to pay at the pump. They'll get a psychic rush everytime they pass a gas station and realize they don't have to stop.

Maybe. And maybe that rush will fall to dispair when they get their first bill from the local Edison.


It's true that hybrids aren't financially efficient for the little ol' granny who only drives to the grocery store and to church. But, for folks who put on a lot of miles, hybrids do make sense. For folks who believe they have a moral responsibility to be frugal, hybrids do make sense. For folks who believe in reducing their carbon/pollution footprint, hybrids make sense. Hell, for those who *hate* to stop for gas, hybrids make sense.

W2 you are wrong about hybrids, check Popular Mechanic's article on them in Jan/Feb's issue.

As for this announcment, I fid it hallarious as I use the extreme example of a PHEV Vespa as sort of poking fun at people who bash alt. fuel vehicles that aren't perfect by saying something like "Hey so what if it's not a PHEV Vespa?" ... now I can really mean it :D

The differential with hybrids is coming down; they will make even more sense in the future.

Surely this is good news - a hybrid scooter. Admittedly , it sounds a bit crude with 3 standard (lead acid ?) batteries, but if it looks good, I am sure they would go for NiMH or better.
What is interesting is the notion of a small, light hybrid instead of a huge 3000 pound Prius or even bigger.
Scooters tend to be quite polluting (even 4 stroke ones) so a hybrid which reduces the ICE use in town would be really good.
The only problem that I can see is that they would be so silent, they might increase the number of accidents.

Scooters tend to be quite polluting (even 4 stroke ones)

I know this is true for the old-school Vespas et al, but is it still true for modern ones? Got data?

I have got a Vespa (ET4) - 2002 4 stroke.
The current Euro3 ones (LX etc) would be better, but you can only put so much anti-pollution gear in a 130KG scooter.
The old 2 stroke ones were(are) absolute pigs in terms of pollution, but V cool in their own way.

Is it fuel injected? I didn't find any info on that on their site.

If I had to guess no would be my bet.

Everything but the top of the line $8500 honda scooters use a carb.

They use fuel injection on their 600cc sport bikes. The last one of these I worked with was a 2003 F4i but it was still only an open loop control system. meaning that it did not have an 02 sensor for feedback.


I have heard that a lawn mower produces more polution in 1 hr of operation than a new automotive engine does in 100,000 mi.

Not sure if they were talking about a 4 cycle mower.

You can have good mpg and still be "dirty" in terms of emissions. You can have an inefficent engine and still get good sounding mpg #'s (2 cycle especially)

If you want to compair two vehicles you need to look at MPG, emissions, and BSFC.

Brake specific fule consumption tells you how efficient an engine is at turning fule into useable power, (lower is better) a diesel might have a BSFC of .325

http://www.sae.org/ohmag/features/mahlechart/mahlechart.pdf

A gasoline car .4 - .5
I'd love to see numbers on automotive gas engines in current vehicles ...anyone have this?

Motorcycles in the US have fairly lax emission requirements. I don't even have an evap emissions canister on my 2003 suzuki...

A modern catalytic convertor would probably only rob 3-4% of my power and on a 350lb bike I wouldn't even notice that loss...but then you would need closed loop control to operate the catalyst most efficiently and many bike owners would probably purposely remove/bypass/alter a catalyst on a motorcycle.

As to the discussion on emissions on small engine vehicles. I know the EPA just past some new regulation on Catalysts on lawn tractors and other vehicle classes for the very near future.

If you look closely there are more than a few new motorcycles that are running closed loop EFI and some with catalysts. The new Honda VFR (sportbike) even has a catalyst. This technology is working its way down the food chain.

The really exciting feature I see is the ability of the operator to manage their use of the hybrid. My daughter lived in an Italian city and the Vespa sound, while nostalgic, is quite annoying at 1 am. Not to mention the polution from the 2 cycle engines. The idea that you could switch to electic in the city center is a great idea. Maybe Harley could add that feature to their noise makers.

Stomv,

I was listening until you mentioned "good old fashioned Yankee frugality." Sounds like something you can buy in a jar in the gift shop of a Cracker Barrel. Obviously, we are not living in the same America.

The 125 is Euro2 and has a catalyst.
They have a 250 X8 which is Euro3 and is Fuel injected and has a catalyst (but not hybrid).
The trick with these things is to get one and use it when the weather / mood is suitable (assuming you have a small - medium commute). (And perhaps go one further and buy (and use) a push bike.
The 250 would be more fuel efficient than a Prius and much cheaper to buy.
The 50 is probably better suited to European cities.
As long as you have the space, you should have a few options, and not just a SUV and a Prius.
A bike and a scooter complete the pyramid and are great fun with the right mood / weather.

russ, i'd have to side with stomv, esp on "getting the bill from Edison". in a largely unregulated market (which many electric markets are), shit happens. you think people would be crazy about electric cars during the rolling blackouts in california? i think not.

"Maybe Harley could add that feature to their noise makers."

Ed, I am with you totally, but I had to laugh out loud at the idea. Harley? Make a hybrid? Make anything quiet? Hundreds of harleys cruise around here, and what most (not all-some do respect other people and I respect them) of their owners care about most is who can make the most noise. That's Harley culture, afterall. Half of them run sawed off exhaust systems. They gun it all the way down the road and then engine-brake it to get the equally loud back-fire. And oh man, they think they are sooo cool when they can be heard in a two mile radius. Bah. Grow up. Harleys are wimpy muts: all they can do is bark loud cause they have no bite. And people pay 20 grand for that? Man, did they get duped. But Vespa's onto something good here.

This ought to get some reactions! :)

haha what would be pretty cool is an all-electric scooter with a speaker at the end that would make pre-recorded noises. with buttons on the front, like "hard accelerate" or something.

It this a joke? Who needs more gasoline powered scooters when there are pollution free sources of fuel like the sun, wind, and biofuels.

If you can recharge your PHEV Vespa from a solar panel, you're in GREAT shape; not only do you have an independent source of electricity, you can use it for transportation!  Talk about independence; neither rolling blackouts nor fuel shortages can take you down completely.

As for Harleys, IMHO everyone driving any vehicle deliberately modified to be louder than permitted by law should be arrested and the vehicle confiscated and sold at auction.  Yes, on the first offense.  That would end the problem post haste.

Randy, how is your sail powered car treating you?

Engineer-Poet, after reading some of the BS other people write on here I'm not sure if you're joking or not.

I'm quite serious about the solar stuff.  Even at 25¢/kWh, electricity from PV panels is roughly competitive with gasoline today; all you need is a vehicle that takes electricity.  Wind is downright cheap.

After having had an asshole with megaphone pipes roar up and down my street several times a few years ago, I have little tolerance remaining for them.  Arresting drivers and confiscating vehicles works to get rid of nuisances like johns cruising for streetwalkers, and it will work better when the vehicle itself is the crime.

Solar cars - not so good on cloudy days.

I think people should be free to drive load vehicles as long as they don't sit outside someones house revving them. Is someone driving past you for a few seconds realy that much of a problem? I think there are far bigger problems with the world today to get worked up about.

Compare

Aprilia SR Ditech 50 cc (direct injection two stroke)
6.5 cv real
1.8 l /100 km on ECE 40 drive cycle
Euro 3 on ECE 40 drive cycle with catalyst (same power)

Piaggio Vespa ET3 50cc (2 valve 4 stroke)
3.8 cv real
2.8 l /100 km on ECE 40 drive cycle
Euro 3 with seconday air injection electronic carb and catalyts

So what does that mean. It means that even with a twenty percent reduction in fuel consupmtion the vespa will still be slower and consume more fuel and won't be any cleaner than the Ditech scooter.

Why not do this to the Ditech. The lower the power requirements on the DiTech the better the FC. No probelms geting real world 1l / 100 km on a 30mph version (less for higher speed rating obvoiusly)


Anything that intrudes into my peace, even for a moment, is an intrusion.  If it so much as wakes me up and deprives me of sleep that I need, I have suffered real harm.  Further, if it's lawful for one person to do it, it's lawful for everyone to do it so you suffer continuously.

It should be unlawful for anyone to do it.

NIMBY.

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