Piaggio developing hybrid scooter

A hybrid-powered scooter is in the works at Piaggio SpA, Chairman Roberto Colaninno said at a press conference and Thomson Financial reported July 25. The company plans to launch the traditional gas- and alternative electric-powered scooters in congested citied in the second half of next year.

The hybrid will be based on Piaggio’s three-wheeled MP3 scooter, launched last year, and will be priced under $14,000, company officials said.

“The hybrid can represent a very important reply to the problems of traffic, safety and pollution,” Colaninno said at the news conference. “The hybrid generates synergies from the two motors, using electronic systems.”

The 125cc gas engine in the planned hybrid will run for 169 mpg (60 km/L) and produce only 2.3 ounces of carbon dioxide per mile (40 grams/km), he said, adding that the electric motor has zero carbon emissions.

The scooter’s patented hybrid technology, developed with the University of Pisa, will use a lithium battery to power its electric motor, which can be recharged at home or through the gas engine when it is running, officials said. The driver can choose which form of power to use. Lithium batteries are lighter than traditional lead batteries and can be recharged several thousand times, officials said, adding that the choice of supplier remains open.

Colaninno said he sees the hybrid as a way of dealing with traffic congestion in the world’s largest cities, but he’s not expecting to get government subsidies to support the new vehicle.

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