Market Forecast Projects Cumulative 1.7M PHEVs Globally by 2015, 36% in the US
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Piaggio Introduces Plug-in Hybrid Version of MP3 Scooter

The MP3 hybrid. Click to enlarge.

The Piaggio Group has introduced the MP3 Hybrid, a plug-in hybrid version of its MP3 three-wheeled scooter. With a grid-chargeable Li-ion battery pack, the Piaggio MP3 Hybrid reduces both fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions by more than 50%. The MP3 Hybrid has a Euro 3 emissions rating.

The Piaggio MP3 Hybrid incorporates a parallel hybrid drive in which the 124cc combustion engine and a 2.6 kW, 15N·m synchronous brushless permanent magnet traction motor are mechanically and electronically linked and simultaneously supply power to the wheel. The hybrid powertrain offers combined power of 11 kW (15 hp), with combined torque of 16 Nm (12 lb-ft).

Energy flow in the MP3 Hybrid. Click to enlarge.

The MP3 Hybrid manages the power delivered from the gasoline and electric units with a Ride-By-Wire system: the torque requested by the rider via the throttle and brake is processed by the integrated electronic management system (VMS, Vehicle Management System) which, on the basis of a number of parameters (such as battery charge, for example), splits the power delivery between the power plants. When decelerating and braking, the management system recovers energy and accumulates it in the battery.

Under startup and acceleration, the electric motor can supplements the gasoline unit to provide up to an 85% boost in performance. The electric motor also offers the Piaggio MP3 Hybrid an ultra-quiet reverse mode, which is handy for parking and for manoeuvring out of tight spaces.

Mp3hybriddrivetrain   Mp3hybriddrivetrain2
Two CAD renderings of the MP3 Hybrid drivetrain unit (engine, motor and transmission). Click to enlarge.

The Piaggio MP3 Hybrid offers fuel economy of up to 60 km/L (141 mpg US, or 1.7 L/100km), compared with an average of 26 km/L (61 mpg US, or 3.8 L/100km) for gasoline scooters with mid-sized engines. CO2 emissions are 40 g/km compared with 90 g/km for a conventional internal combustion engined scooter (figures for the MP3 Hybrid calculated considering 65% use in hybrid mode and 35% use in electric mode).

The Piaggio MP3 Hybrid can also run on electric power alone; pressing the button on the handlebar disengages the gasoline engine. The rider can switch between the full electric and hybrid mode even while on the move, by simply selecting the desired mode by pressing and holding the "Hy Tech" button for a few seconds. The MP3 offers four operating modes:

  • Hybrid Charge for maximum battery charge
  • Hybrid Power, for maximum performance
  • Full electric mode
  • Reverse mode
CAD rendering of the battery pack location. Click to enlarge.

The battery pack, with integrated control electronics, is hidden away in the compartment under the saddle, which still has enough room to accommodate a helmet and other objects. An indicator integrated into the dashboard lets the rider keep a constant eye on the battery charge level. The vehicle is charged easily from the mains with a normal electrical cable, plugged into the relative socket with the panel switched off. The full charge cycle takes approximately three hours, although 85% charge is achieved in just two hours.



If you switch from a 20mpg vehicle to an 140mpg vehicle you will save 100 gallons of fuel per year for each 5 miles of your commute (assuming 235 round trips per year)

So if you live 10 miles from work and gas costs $3 a gallon you save $600 a year.

Put a carbon fibre shell on it for crash and elements protection & improved areodynamics and you can use it year round.

In a few years time replace the batteries with ones that can provide enough power and range for fully electric performance.

They would also be an excellent vehicle for drive on and off trains which could run off the grid and charge the vehicles on board.

Using simple techniques of passive buildings, thermal mass & solar gain (lighting and thermal) with the latest photovoltaics it is possible to build buildings that use 1/4 of the energy of a comparable building with a similar upfront cost.



When energy (gas, NG, Electricity, etc) is very cheap and salaries are high, very few of us want to save a few cents on energy.

When gas/diesel price is double or tripple, and electricity is up to between $0.20 and $0.30/Kwh and average wages are flat or even lower, many more will dare to pay more attention to energy price and consumption.

The pocket book seems to be about the only thing we believe in.

That's how we are....


At $8000+ for these, they could sell them to cities for meter readers and ticket writers. Lots of low speed and stop and go there.


It's more than the cost of gas or electricity, the biggest cost for car ownwership is insurance and, if you live in the city, parking. switching from a car to a scooter can save on both of those. Of course after you've decided to buy a helmet that's when you have to decide between gas, electricity or pedals.

Alex Kovnat

There is an intellectual frustration with hybrid electric motorcycles, which I would like to mention.

Consider first, H-E cars. The highly successful Prius, is a front wheel drive car. FWD is good if you want electric or hybrid electric operation because the front wheels, which are driven, also do most of the braking when you slow down. Hence you can get good regenerative braking with a front wheel drive car.

With rear wheel drive, regenerative braking isn't as good because the drivetrain is coupled to the rear wheels while the front wheels do most of the braking.

I have never heard of a front wheel drive motorcycle. As with a rear wheel drive car, the engine drives the rear wheel while the front wheel does most of the braking. Hence an electric or hybrid electric motorcycle isn't going to do regenerative braking very well.

If you could fit a wheel hub motor-generator to the front wheel of a hybrid electric motorcycle, you could drive both front and rear wheels. But even more important, the front wheel hub motor would greatly improve regenerative braking capability.

So if you like the idea of a hybrid electric motorcycles, throw out some positive thought waves to whomever might be working on development of wheel hub motors.

Roy Davis


I'm not as familiar with motorcycle dynamics as I am with light duty vehicles, but I would suspect that the torque capability of the HEV motor is not high enough to provide all the braking, regardless of front or rear wheel drive, especially at only 2.5 kW power level. Hence, it is likely that all possible regen is captured with the RWD scooter. A hub motor, generally being a higher torque motor, MAY be able to offer better regen, but not guaranteed. There's no indication here of the Ah capacity of the battery, or peak power capability, so you may not even be able to capture more regen.


Thomas Lankester


I have to question your asssumption:
'With rear wheel drive, regenerative braking isn't as good because the drivetrain is coupled to the rear wheels while the front wheels do most of the braking.'

I used and Oxygen electric scooter for several years and it had very effective rear wheel throttle braking. I very rarely had to use the front wheel brakes and when I did, the amount of braking energy being released far exceeded what the batteries could absorb.

The limiting factor for energy recovery by regen braking is the charge rate of the energy storage. This is where ultra-caps and hydraulic energy storage systems exceed batteries.

My scooter can discharge its batteries in normal use in 1 hour but take 3 hours to recharge. Conversely, I can decelerate on the brakes far faster than the batteries will let me accelerate. So, there is no way that more than a fraction of the braking (kinetic) energy is going to be recaptured by battery regen.

As Roy says, motor / dynamo location on a scooter is not the top issue for regen braking.

If the above looks like I am dismissive of regen/throttle braking - far from it. Effective throttle braking affords the rider a very responsive form of speed control and the feature is inherently anti-lock. As the rear wheel starts to lock and skid, the dynamo effect disappears and the wheel regains road traction.

For a scooter rider, a bit of regen energy recovery is nice: staying upright on the road is a 'must have'.

Will S

I concur with Tom's explanation.


"This is where ultra-caps and hydraulic energy storage systems exceed batteries."

This is also where PHEV and a larger battery pack come in as well. 1 kWh of batteries may store 10 kw for 10 seconds, depending on state of charge. Now you have 10 kWh of batteries which should be able to store more.


wow... id litteraly rather ride around town on a pink unicorn trailing the village people and 10000 richard simmons impersonators dancing to this song ... then own that scooter.


And I think I'd pay to see you do it.


Research Statistics about the average car usage

"A closer look at statistics about the average use of cars was taken, to clarify the users' needs. It showed that only a small part of the potential provided by the car gets used regularly. Most people drive alone in their car, more than 90% of the trips are shorter than 100 km, for 50% of the trips the average speed is 30 km/h and during 90% of the trips a top speed of only 60 km/h is reached. Nevertheless it nearly is impossible to sell a car below the minimum standards such as a top speed of at least 150 km/h, 300 to 500 km range, 4 seats and a big trunk."


That is the utility factor. If you are going to pay a lot for a car, you want it do to everything that you need to do. People do not need to drive a pickup truck 365 days a year at 12 mpg gallon to haul some plywood 1 day per year.

People do seem to think that they need seating for 4 and a large trunk just in case. They drive around with hardware that produces 200 hp when 20 hp is needed on the roads to sustain speed. We may see personal transport in a new way soon.


Does anyone know how fast one of these little buggies actually travels?

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