141mpg Piaggio MP3 Hybrid will go on sale in USA Q1 2010

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When it goes on sale during the first quarter of 2010, the Piaggio MP3 Hybrid will become the first plug-in hybrid vehicle of any kind to be sold in the United States. Capable of returning up to 141mpg, it will also be one of the most fuel-efficient. Combined with those two factors, the MP3′s leaning three-wheel arrangement and low price, somewhere around $8 or $9,000, will make it a uniquely appealing product.
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Piaggio Group USA President and CEO Paolo Timoni revealed this information on Fox Car Report Live yesterday while speaking to me and the show’s host, Gary Gastelu. It’s the first time we’ve heard not only that the MP3 Hybrid will be sold in America, but when. Click here to see the show. 

Piaggio’s hybrid system is virtually identical to that of the popular
Toyota Prius with one major exception: the MP3 Hybrid’s battery can be
recharged by plugging it into an electrical outlet.

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 for up to 40 miles, 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.

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.

  • http://www.1beststore.com/ 1beststore.com

    The design is cool. Two wheels in the front looks so cute. Maybe girls will love it more than boy. Look it face in front of it, it just like an angry lovely dogie. The price seems a little higher. 30% off will be reasonable.

  • Matt's a jerk

    it just like an angry lovable dogie. The kind you hate for being so ugly, but love for being exactly what you need.

  • http://www.designronin.com Design Ronin

    They are on the road here in Australia. Odd things to see – they just look like they are about to fall over; even stranger when they hit the corners.

    • BTF

      The ones in Australia are not Hybrid.

      I think this is heading in the right direction. What is the life span of the batteries and what about a fuel cell version. The current elctrioc bikes can only travel 75KM before they need a recharge. A hybrid has some advantage of course But this adds to the weight.

      I would like to see the earlier ItalJet 3 wheel design as a hybrid. I am looking foward to owning one in a few years time when they have worked out some of the mods required. A smaller quick charge longer lasting battery would be the go…

  • http://www.theebbtide.blogspot.com ebbTIDE

    There’s a great series called “No Age Limit” where a couple of older bikers take Mp3′s across country ( http://www.noagelimitpiaggio.us/ ). I’ve been wanting one for my 45 mile two lane twisty commute. Now I’ll wait for the hybrid. I’ll have a super efficient vehicle for gas crunches and keep by F-150.

  • Bob

    Driving battery only range suspect; read elsewhere 12 miles at 15 mph, ok if traveling through shopping malls but forget everyday travel. Suggested price is high, $6000 more reasonable to buy.

  • http://artistruth.livejournal.com will

    How much does it weigh?

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes

      The non-hybrid 125 is 199kg/439lbs (dry). That’s pretty heavy, and I’d expect the electric motor and batteries to add a fair bit to that figure.

  • BikerBill

    Sheesh, is this Paolo dude boring or what?

  • jerryw

    I have an MP3 500. Dry weight is 535. I would imagine the weight to be closer to that. The hybrid should be a very interesting bike. Anyone know what the range is? Top speed? It sounds great for a commuter or in the city. I use my MP3 for the road, a 250cc other brand for running around town.

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes

      Thanks Jerry. Full specs haven’t been released yet, so we’re just using what’s known so far. We’ll keep you updated as more details come to light, stay tuned.

  • Scooter Meister

    I have a MP3 500 and love it. If you’re interested in learning more from those already riding this funky looking scoot, then check out a forum dedicated to this machine:

    http://www.modernvespa.com/forum/forum13

  • Eric Cherry

    140+ mpg, with my daily riding, plus plug-in capabilities. I would always be stuck dealing with bad stale gas in my tank.

  • Glenn

    3 Cheers for Piaggio! The MP3 series is a great step forward in engineering. The addition of a hybrid is the icing on the cake! Piaggio has always been know for innovation … remember they originated the modern scooter. Yes of course a longer electric range would be fantastic … how about an accessory solar panel to help recharge the MP3 when you are not near an electric outlet? Perfetto!

  • NTBH

    That 0-60 time is way too low. One of the print mags did their own unofficial 0-60 tests on all 3 flavors and the 250 was no where near to 5 seconds.

  • http://weroam.wordpress.com Darek

    If gas prices in 2010 are anything like they were last summer I expect these will fly out of dealerships. Assuming 140 is a generous estimate, and something like 120 is more accurate, This thing is still a knock out. A reasonable performance vehicles that is 4 times as fuel efficient as some of the better efficiency vehicles available? I think piggagio will have itself a hit with this. the mp3 is already a very interesting platform. this takes it to another level.

    Nice job on FOX Wes.

  • Jeff

    >Piaggio’s hybrid system is virtually identical to that of the popular Toyota Prius

    Not to be a nitpicker, but that is an inaccurate statement. I own both a Prius and a Highlander, both of which use Toyota’s Synergy system. In that scheme (which Toyota has patented but is licensing the technology, for example to Nissan), the electric motor sits between the gas engine and the wheels in a “series” configuration. By accelerating, decelerating, or even reversing the electric motor, the amount of torque and the angular velocity from the gas engine is modified. A Prius has no transmission per se, and no “clutch” of any kind (not even a quasi-clutch like a torque converter); the electric motor and its sun gear IS the transmission, and the engine is always directly connected to the wheels (sitting in “neutral” or stopped at a light, the electric motor is running backwards at exactly the same speed as the engine, which cancels the net motion of the sun gear and means no clutch or converter wear – or most of the time, the engine just turns off).

    In contrast, the Piaggio uses the standard transmission of its non-Hybrid models, with an electric motor tacked onto the side (you can see this motor protruding out of the rear hub in some photos). This is a “parallel” configuration that still uses a centrifigal clutch* and constant-speed transmission, and is less efficient than the Prius’ system. However, Piaggio said they went with this configuration, which is more like the Ford Escape hybrid than a Prius, in order to lower costs by using the existing drivetrain. Plus, this way they don’t have to negotiate the Synergy patent with Toyota.

    - Jeff

    *Actually there is a type of CVT that can approach zero-throughput torque without a clutch, but they are generally too large for scooter applications. The only reason I mention this is because Piaggio includes a seat sensor on the MP3 to prevent operation when the driver is not seated. If MP3s use these clutchless transmissions, then a vanishingly small but non-zero torque would always be going to the drivetrain and Piaggio may have added the seat sensor as a safety measure, since under certain circumstances that tiny torque could be enough to get the bike rolling. Piaggio doesn’t specify this in their literature, but I think it’s more likely that the seat sensor is to combat operator stupidity (e.g. standing next to the bike and revving it up, which unlike a conventional motorcycle would engage the centrifigual clutch and off the scooter goes without a rider!). Note that this whole diatribe applies to any of the MP3s, not just the hybrid.

  • gary terrell

    what a great idea! economic fun on 3 wheels.

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  • john

    does it have storage space?

  • emilliano zapatta

    what is wrong with you people ? Piaggio stretches out to develop something really better Instead of trying to impress each other beating down the MP3 Hybrid, why not find all the GTET things about it They are in buisness to MAKE A PROFIT Say something positive or just chill out @

    emillio

  • Tim

    Dangit, when is it coming out!! It’s way past the end of the first quarter in the U.S. now and my dealers near D.C. have no clue on anything. I’d love to get one for this summer.