Piaggio MP3 Hybrid: world's first plug-in hybrid scooter gets 141mpg

Dailies -

By

Piaggio_MP3_Hybrid_3.jpgWhen the Piaggio MP3 Hybrid goes on sale next year it will become not only the first plug-in hybrid scooter to reach production, but also one of the most fuel-efficient vehicles ever made. It achieves its incredibly frugal consumption — up to 141mpg — thanks to a parallel hybrid system similar to that used by the Toyota Prius. Combining a 125cc four-stroke engine with an electric motor, the leaning three-wheeler is capable of operating on either power source alone or with the two combined for increased performance. But, that’s only part of the story; the MP3 Hybrid could be the first plug-in hybrid vehicle — bike or car — to enter mass production anywhere in the world. Click through for more information, or click the image above for the gallery.


>

With a normal parallel hybrid, the only energy sources are gasoline and
kinetic energy harvested by regenerative braking; both are used to
recharge the batteries, which then power an electric motor that
supplements the gas engine under acceleration and runs the vehicle by
itself at low speeds. It’s a clever system that can really reduce fuel
consumption, especially at low speeds and in stop-start traffic. The
only flaw is that the internal combustion engine must burn some fossil
fuel to recharge the batteries, meaning the system isn’t as efficient
as it could be if those batteries were being recharged from an external
source. That’s where the plug in “plug-in” comes in handy.

Plug the MP3 Hybrid into a standard wall outlet and you can fully
charge its battery pack in just three hours. That energy can then be
used to make the scooter even more efficient in hybrid mode or enable
it to run on its batteries alone, delivering a silent, zero emissions
vehicle (it can operate in electric-only mode after recharging its
batteries from the engine as well).

In fact, the MP3 Hybrid can operate in any one of four modes: the
aforementioned electric-only or three hybrid modes designed to maximize
performance, minimize fuel consumption or recharge the batteries
quickly. The later could come in handy if you know you’re about to
enter one of the new emissions-free vehicles only zones now cropping up
in some Europeans cities. In maximum performance mode the batteries can
boost acceleration by 85%. Considering the 15bhp, 64mph 125cc MP3 is
already fairly nippy, that assistance should give it performance
equivalent to a 250cc scooter. For the uninitiated, that means a 0-60
time in the 5-second range or enough urgency to easily out accelerate
most cars in town.

While several manufacturers have showed plug-in hybrid prototype cars
and bikes before (the Peugeot HYmotion3 is of particular note), none have yet entered mass production. If Piaggio can
get the MP3 Hybrid into show rooms some time in 2009, it’ll be the
first manufacturer to bring a plug-in to market and, at 141mpg, it’ll
easily out-efficiency any of its four-wheeled rivals.

Other than achieving stupendously impressive fuel economy, the MP3
Hybrid looks and works just like the non-hybrid version. The only
sacrifice is to underseat storage — that’s where the batteries go –
which still remains large enough to fit one full-face helmet. The
two-wheeled front end that gives the MP3 its unique character remains
unaltered; that means it’ll still lean over up to 40˚, but should be
immune to falling over or washing out at speed; advantages that’ve
proven enormously popular with new riders.

The MP3 hybrid will retain a scooter’s inherent green credentials too.
Scooters (motorcycles too) neither slow other vehicles down — they
don’t cause congestion — nor are they subject to sitting still in
traffic, they’re capable of safely passing through it. So the MP3 is
free to achieve its 141mpg while enjoying shorter journey times than
any four-wheeled vehicle.

If you’re like us, you’re thinking this all sounds really cool, but
you’d like to know some numbers. Namely: how far can the MP3 Hybrid
travel on electricity only? How fast can it go in that mode? How fast
can it go using both power sources? How much will it cost? When will it
be available? Unfortunately, Piaggio isn’t saying. But, we’ll be sure
to bring you answers as soon as we have them.

Make sure you check out the gallery.

Piaggio

  • Brhma

    I fail to what the big deal about 141mpg is. In India Honda and Bajaj are already supplying 125cc vehicles with fuel economy of 250mpg without the hybrid. I expect much better from a hybrid.

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes

      I suspect that 250mpg from a 125 is ever so slightly optimistic. The Piaggio is a real vehicle that’s fast, practical and safe.

  • http://www.electricmotorcycleforum.com skadamo

    That is cool! Piaggio is really innovating the last few years. I thought we would see a lot of all electric bikes before we saw a production hybrid. How much does it weigh?

    I hear Vectrix is coming out with a reverse trike and licensing the MP3 technology for Piaggio. I wonder if Vectrix helped them out with any of the electric drive technology.

  • TeeJay

    Honda CBF125 does 108-110 mpg, this figure of 250mpg sounds unrealistic.

  • Curtis

    Very cool, but my 1969 sl90 (Honda, one year only) in the manual said 180mpg. But I bet this bike has way more power, speed and well… maybe stability, I haven’t a three wheeler, but I don’t want to.

  • http://triumphdaytona675.wordpress.com Sam

    I can’t see Mad Max on one, but perhaps that vision of the future shouldn’t be taken as a guide. That Mpg figure is amazing and is so impressive that it will make non-bikers listen.

    I hope that more bike companies will take note and start making increased fuel economy a part of the update cycle along with the traditional more power, less weight.

    Sam

  • http://weroam.wordpress.com Darek

    Sold! This looks awesome. That kind of mileage is awesome. If they could keep the cost around the 7k mark I bet this thing is a hit.

  • Benpi

    Any word on if it will be freeway legal? If I remember correctly CA requires a minimum of 175 cc’s to be freeway legal. But, seeing as this has an electric motor combined with the IC, hopefully it will pass, and keep the 140 mpg

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes

      Wait, so you’re suggesting Piaggio should issue real details in their releases? Or be knowledgable enough to answer questions? Heresy!

    • TeeJay

      Piaggio released 250 and 400 ccm LT version this year. Might be the next step…

      Personally, I prefer the Peugeot HYmotion3: its suspension seems to be more steady and durable.

  • Remy

    I’m really not going to get excited until something like this can be used for all real-world scenarios like daily commuting (freeways) and more than just trips around town and a few backroads.

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes

      Why couldn’t you use this for daily commuting?

      • Remy

        This doesn’t seem like something that is freeway legal or that I’d even trust to keep up with traffic over California bridges and highways. If it’s capable of that then I’d be really excited.

        Although, this is paving the way for more options (hopefully bigger and better) so it IS exciting in that sense.

    • TeeJay

      It’s a HYBRID. So you can go countryside with it. Last year I met Italian 125/250cc scooters – on the peaks of Austrian Alps. :D

  • http://www.urbanrider.eu urbanrider

    Piaggio releasing scooters with hybrid technology has been rumoured for so long, I’m kinda dissapointed the first bike they are releasing with it is an MP3 and not the LX or even GT models.

    The reasons Vectrix didn’t launch with a LX or GT equivalent scooter , as opposed to a large maxi-scooter, are weight and size of the battery technology needed. How they got money to develop their bike shows the insanity in the money markets over the last couple of years. Since when have maxi-scooters sold in enough quantity to return the kind of profits Vectrix needed?

    It seems to me, that by releasing an MP3 hybrid, Piaggio are admitting they haven’t been able to get their technology to work in 2 wheel, smaller scooters and keep it commercially viable.

    If this hybrid/electric thing is going to work, then it needs to be used for smaller, in terms of engine capacity and physical size, scooters.

    A hybrid Vespa Granturismo… THAT would have me salivating.

  • http://uspolitics.about.com/ Kathy

    FYI – I just tweeted this article.

    Can’t wait to hear about availability, $$$.

  • http://uspolitics.about.com/ Kathy

    To Ben: see this wikipedia article: “Most freeways in most countries and areas in the world allow motorcycles with sufficient speed or power such that they are not so slow as to impede other traffic or cause hazards due to speed differentials.”

    But this LA Times article says that CA minimum is 125 cc; no source cited. I’m guessing during CA rush hour a 125cc would not be impeding traffic.

    One hopes a hybrid 250cc MP3 is in the works.

  • http://samjwatkins.com Sam Watkins

    I think this looks very interesting: the Vectrix doesn’t have the capacity for longer journeys and indeed it’s weight made it less useful as a two wheeled vehicle.

    This looks good on all fronts: especially the distance point of view (as someone who doesn’t live two minutes from work and town and more importantly more than twenty miles).

    It’s also good for motorcycle novices.. so long as the price is reasonable, and the normal MP3 125cc is more than £4k so so long at it comes in less than the £6k Vectrix it should be on to a winner.
    regards, Sam.

  • http://www.poweredbicycles.co.uk michael

    Thank u r information

  • http://www.poweredbicycles.co.uk Jacob

    nice scooter

  • steve

    Brilliant scooter, wonderfull tecnology, I beleive this will be a big winner?