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.


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Configuration:

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
permit.


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.



Range:

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
$9,000.



Read more about the Piaggio MP3 Hybrid here and here.

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