Workers at the Vespa factory will be sticking their heads out the window to watch the Vespa’s human-powered cousin as the eleventh stage of the Giro d’Italia bicycle race starts and ends in Pontedera. Thanks Lu$ (In other Pontedera news, local chocolatier Amedi was featured in this month’s Food and Wine magazine.)
2strokebuzz sources report that local Piaggio/Vespa dealer Vespa Chicago will soon close their Vespa Boutique on Diversey and their showroom in Maywood (within the Volkswagen dealership of parent company West Suburban Auto Group). The new Vespa dealer for Chicagoland is rumored to be Motoplex USA, a motorcycle/powersports dealership with showrooms in Worth and Joliet, IL, and an upscale Chicago showroom on Wells Street called “Old Town Motocycle Shoppe.”
As Motoplex did not immediately reply to our confirmation request, this information is still hearsay, but such a move seems absolutely consistent with recent changes in Piaggio’s strategy. West Suburban seemed unlikely to add Piaggio brands Moto Guzzi and Aprilia, while Motoplex is already an Aprilia dealer. Old Town Motocycle Shoppe has a prime upscale retail location and employees with motorcycle experience, and Motoplex’ other two dealers may be more accesible to suburban and even rural customers. According to one of our sources, Vespa Chicago’s general manager Dan Kay will move to Motoplex along with Vespa/Piaggio. It is unclear whether Piaggio or West Suburban Auto Group terminated the relationship, why it was terminated, or exactly when the transition will take place. Vespa Chicago opened in 2000, they’ve been Chicago’s sole dealer since Vespa’s return to the United States in 1999.
As promised, Piaggio officially announced their double-front-wheeled scooter today, as the renamed “MP3.” “X2” was apparently the “code” name, which would make sense if they didn’t have an X8 and X9 already on the market. Even so, “MP3” is about the worst product name available in terms of Google searches, other than the new “Kymco Porn” coming out later this month.
Ignoring the Italjet Scooop which may or may not have actually been produced en masse, Piaggio can’t find enough superlatives to describe the MP3: “revolutionary,” “innovative,” and “unprecedented” are their favorites. It is quite a sophisticated engineering marvel, and while purists may argue that the extra wheel and intricate suspension just overcomplicate things, a three-wheeled scooter could be just what reluctant new riders are looking for. While anyone who grew up near a farm knows a three-wheeled ATV is a deathtrap, Piaggio insists the MP3’s independently-tilting trapezoidal suspension (and three disc brakes on three 12″ wheels) result in a safer ride with better traction and unheard-of braking power. Those with an irrational fear of centerstands will note that the suspension can be locked and the scooter parked without a stand (though one is supplied).
The MP3 is available in Sky Blue, Ruby Red, Excalibur Grey and Graphite Black, with either of two engines: the Quasar 250 i.e. (fuel injected) or Leader 125, both four-valve, liquid-cooled four-strokes. Both meet Euro 3 standards. Piaggio describes the styling as “maintaining a clear resemblance to the Piaggio Gran Turismo,” but other than general proportion, the similarity is negligible.
A winter option package–with a large windscreen, winter tires, and a heated lap apron and waistcoat–will likely add to the MP3’s popularity with year-round European riders. Other options include a Tom Tom GPS package and a bluetooth-enabled matching helmet, as well as the usual racks, top cases, and anti-theft devices.
More photos in the 2sb Gallery
Update (noon 6/11/06) Piaggio’s MP3 website is live, and as the news reports trickle in (DNA India, AGI, ScooterScoop) it appears the 125cc version, at least, will be available in the USA, and that the 250cc version will cost 5,000 Euros, roughly the same as the Vespa GTS.
Once again, we’ve been looked over when the invites were sent out. Motoblog.it has confirmed that the Piaggio X2 scooter will be unveiled to the press on May 11. The X2 is Piaggio’s much-hyped two-front-wheeled scooter that has been seen only in video clips for the past few months. Broooke will rant about its similarity to the Italjet Scooop but the X2 is a great deal more scooter-like, and, more importantly, not a styrofoam model.
Vespaway reports today that Vespa New Orleans is raffling off a Piaggio Fly 150 to support the New Orleans Police Department. Tickets are $5 for one chance and 3 for $10 and will be available later this week at Vespa New Orleans or by contacting Nelson at 504-628-5252. Vespa New Orleans also supplies the NOPD’s Vespa and Piaggio scooters.
According to Fuel Cell Today, Piaggio and the Energy Research Centre of the Netherlands (ECN) tested a newer version of their “Fuel-Cell Reduced Emission Scooter” (FRESCO) at Piaggio’s Pontedera testing ground on February 28, 2006. The FRESCO project, (download pdf) was based on the Piaggio X9 frame and is not to be confused with the Piaggio X8 and Vespa LX hybrid prototypes. The international collaboration was supported by Piaggio and started in 2002, officially ending in July 2005. The test in February was a continuation of the project–with assistance from the University of Pisa–with the goal of improving performance. The FRESCO scooter is entirely self-propelled by a hexagonally-shaped on-board hydrogen fuel cell, and creates zero emissions. While the specs weren’t listed in the new story, the original goal of the project was to create a vehicle capable of 75kmph and a range of 100km.
Police in South St. Louis are hoping a new substation and a fleet of Piaggio BV200s will deter crime. The salesperson that promised the StLPD that a BV200 can go 100mph might have some explaining to do when they top out at 80. From the archives: NYC police bought 300 BV200s in 2004 (notably used by undercover police to disrupt election protests), and downtown St. Louis police have been using Vespas since 2003. Thanks for the tip, Lu$.
Piaggio X8 400ie
Today Piaggio announced a whole schload of new and redesigned models.
- The Beverly line now includes five models: the 125, 250 ie (“iniezione elettronica” –electronic injection), S 250ie, 400ie, and 500.
- The Liberty and new “racier” Liberty S are both available in a 50cc 2-stroke, as well as 50, 125, and 200cc 4-stroke versions.
- The Typhoon 50 has been redesigned for 2006.
- The redesigned X8 range features five versions: the X8 125 and 150 “Street,” the X8 125, and the 250ie, and the 400ie.
Photos of some of the new models are in our gallery, More photos and specs will be posted as we make sense of it all. Note: these are worldwide-market names and products, few will likely make it to the US, and the Beverly will likely continue to be called the “BV” here.
The Vespa LX50 HyS and Piaggio X8 125 HyS were designed in response to European Union specifications, as well as a growing number of urban zones that prohibit all emissions.
First it should be noted that the HyS prototypes feature all (if not more) of the conveniences and performance of their gas counterparts (albeit at a cost of helmet space and dry weight), and like US hybrid automobiles, generate electric power through braking and deceleration, which is in turn used to assist the gas motor, especially during acceleraton. This results in an alleged 25% increase in acceleration power, and an alleged 20% reduction in emissions. Not magical numbers, but respectable, and certainly a well-intentioned (or at least EU-mandated) step in the right direction. But there’s more.
Continue reading “Piaggio Hybrids: more info”
Our report yesterday of “two prototypes” of Piaggio hybrids should have read “Prototypes of two hybrid models:” the Vespa LX50 HyS and PiaggioX8 125 HyS:
VESPA LX50 HyS
X8 125 4-stroke HyS
Single cylinder Piaggio Hi-Per 50cc, 4 stroke, 2 valve
Single cylinder Piaggio Leader 125cc, 4 stroke, 4 valve
Functions as an electric motor as well as a generator, power 1 kW
Functions as an electric motor as well as a generator, power 2.5 kW
Up to 20 km (at 25 km/h)
Up to 20 km (at 35 km/h)
2 standard 12V, 26Ah batteries for a total of 24V, 26Ah
3 standard 12V, 26Ah batteries for a total of 36V, 26Ah
Included in the electronics, allows the traction battery to be charged while running or by plugging into a 220V socket
Drive-by-wire: the electronics interpret and manage riderâ€™s demands based on the state of the system
Acceleration time reduced by approx. 10%
System recovers battery power during deceleration and braking
|Consumption and costs
Reduction of at least 20%. Using electrical recharge, consumption and running costs are half those of a traditional vehicle
The emotional rollercoaster for “green” scooter fans has reached a new high as life imitates April Fools Prank: Today, Piaggio SpA president Roberto Colaninno and Milan mayor Gabriele Albertini announced that two prototypes of the Piaggio HyS gas-electric hybrid-powered scooter will be tested by the City of Milan. This is the first we’ve heard of the HyS, a web search finds nothing but this undated, unsourced news clipping (PDF, in Italian).
Piaggio UK is offering a special Piaggio NRG Power 50 done up in England colors. If you plan to ride it to Germany for the World Cup, you might want to invest in a good, opaque cover. In other news, the new “Italia” model Bonneville is now available on triumph.it.
Piaggio Group has agreed on a worldwide four-year “technical, commercial, sport, and communication cooperation agreement a technical, commercial, sport and communication co-operation deal with ENI, manufacturers of Agip oils. In short, Agip products will be recommended and sold by Piaggio (and Aprilia, Gilera, Derbi, and Moto Guzzi) dealers worldwide, and and Agip will supply specialty fuels and lubricants for Aprilia, Gilera and Derbi race teams. Thanks to Ryetronics for the story.
Some company we’ve never heard of has announced they’re going to import some of those scooter things to compete with them there Vespas.