Piaggio MP3 Hybrid: world's first plug-in lithium ion hybrid vehicle launched in Europe

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Finally, a hybrid vehicle that makes economical and environmental sense. The Piaggio MP3 Hybrid has just been launched in Europe, becoming not only the first plug-in hybrid vehicle to enter mass-production, but also the first hybrid vehicle, of any kind mind you, to use lithium ion batteries. It’s also the most fuel efficient, returning up to 141mpg in normal use. Let’s take a look at why the MP3 Hybrid makes so much sense.

A leaning three-wheeler combines the advantages of a scooter — traffic
busting, easy parking — with something that’s easy-to-use and, most
importantly, unintimidating to new riders. Unlike other, supposedly
eco-friendly vehicles like the Toyota Prius, the MP3 Hybrid will never
get stuck in traffic nor create congestion for other road users,
thereby further reducing its impact on the environment.

Since the gasoline engine only displaces 124cc, European riders will be
able to ride it on nothing but a car license or a motorcycle learner’s

Fuel Economy:

The MP3 Hybrid performs like a 250cc scooter, most of those return
about 90-95mpg. In similar urban conditions, the MP3 Hybrid adds 50% to
that figure. In comparison, the 2010 Toyota Prius, the most
fuel-efficient car sold in the US, returns only 50mpg in the combined
EPA cycle.

The Plug:
A common modification for super nerdy Prius owners is a plug, enabling
them to recharge their batteries at home or at the office and then run
on electricity-only for longer and faster. That also enables them not
to suck down gasoline to recharge the battery when electricity, even
from coal-fired power plants, is created far more efficiently and is so
easily available.

Electric-Only Operation:
Many European cities are rapidly defining areas open only to electric
vehicles. In electric mode, the MP3 can access these areas.
Additionally, you never need use gasoline for short trips just
super-cheap electricity.

Lithium Ion Battery:
More energy density and reliability than NiMH or LiPo cells, Lithium
Ion means higher performance, lighter weight and increased longevity.
Expect the batteries to last the vehicle’s lifetime.

Unlike all-electric competitors, the MP3 Hybrid’s range is indefinite.
Need to take a long trip? Just stop at gas stations and top up.

It’s Coming To America:
Piaggio Group President and CEO Paolo Timoni exclusively revealed to us
that the MP3 Hybrid will go on-sale in the US Q1 2010 for around $8 or

Read more about the Piaggio MP3 Hybrid here and here.

  • vic

    i always thought the prius was a gimmick,in a test conducted by 5th gear [i think] it came out last in fuel economy in a real world comparison against cars like the fiat 500 or even a ford mondeo if you can believe that but this mp3 ROCKS and i’m no hybrid/electric fan.
    ps:i think you guys also write for some auto mags/sites rigt?make sure you post this there if you can,this should be marketed heavily to urban car users
    ps2:”Many European cities are rapidly defining areas open only to electric vehicles” yeah i heard about that and apparently it sucks because it was poorly implemented,basicly they’ve turned pedestrian only areas into pedestrian+electric vehicles areas,so now you have to watch out for kids with bicycles and electric mopeds running around hitting people

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

      The 2010 Prius makes a lot more sense than the old car, but yeah, it’s a bit silly to assume you can transition to a more eco-friendly lifestyle without making some sacrifices. And giving up climate control and the metal cage for a much more efficient scooter isn’t even that big of a sacrifice.

      And yes, I’m the road test editor at Jalopnik.

  • Glenn
  • JR

    I really like:

    -leaning three wheel design
    -hybrid drive
    -that it appeals to car drivers

    The ONLY thing I can’t get over is the scooter-ish-ness of it. What will attract more car drivers (clearly the intent I understand) will repel some of us snooty tank-humpers.

    • geonerd

      I’m a sportbike enthusiast. My K7 750 is the anti-scooter. But I assure you there is no better, faster way of traveling in an urban setting than on a scooter. Fast handling, quick acceleration, capacious underseat storage and easy parking. Scooters are perfect for the city.

      • geonerd

        I forgot to mention how much fun it is too. I rode a Vino 50(!) for the year and a half I lived in San Francisco and it was a blast.

  • JR

    Thanks for the link Glenn. I checked out the Piaggio USA site, too. I actually really like so many aspects of the MP3. They look like a hoot to ride and have all kinds of storage. Really stable and confidence-inspiring in the rain I bet!

    If Piaggio would make the MP3 in a more traditional motorcycle design, keeping the 3 wheels, single cylinder, awesome storage, etc. I would go check one out today. I don’t like the “sitting in an office chair” posture, though.

  • Hosenpants

    Wonder if this powerplant is being shoe-horned into a next-generation Mana right now?

  • chili sv

    The only thing that really doesn’t make sense about the hybrid model vs the MP3 250 is the economics. According to my admittedly rough calculations, you’d have to cover around 30,000 miles to recover the added cost of the hybrid powertrain. That’s a lot for a scooter.

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

      Most people are making monthly payments, not handing over the full amount up front, so that changes the equation a bit.

      • chili sv

        You’re right. Adding interest to the cost difference means you need to ride it further to break even.

  • Keith

    these things are definitely aimed towards the person who is to scared about riding on 2 wheels but wants to pretend they are. which is ok since that’ll reduce traffic on the roads, you’re just not going to catch me on of them.

  • Rodrigo

    A lot of the appeal of hybrids, at least today, is their perceived lower environmental impact. It is unrealistic to believe that purchasing a new hybrid vehicle will produce economic savings in the short run.