The new Piaggio MP3 Hybrid 300ie comes a year after the release of the original 124cc version, which was the world’s first hybrid scooter. Piaggio is also producing a variant called the MP3 Hybrid LT 300ie, which has a wider separation between its front wheels, allowing it to be driven by those with a regular automobile driver’s license.
The Hybrid 300ie pairs a 278cc gasoline-powered engine with a synchronous brushless permanent magnet motor in a parallel hybrid drive system with an automatic CVT transmission. The hybrid scooter has four drive modes, two hybrid and two electric.
The Hybrid Power mode optimizes performance, which Piaggio claims is comparable to a 400cc gas-powered scooter. The electric motor supplements the power of the combustion engine, offering immediate response from a standing start. Hybrid Charge mode sacrifices some performance while using the engine to charge the MP3 Hybrid’s lithium ion batteries. The batteries also receive a charge from regenerative braking.
In the full electric mode, the combustion engine is disengaged, turning the MP3 into a zero emission electric vehicle. The electric motor is also used in reverse mode, used mostly for parking and maneuvering in tight spaces.
The vehicle can switch between full electric and either hybrid mode at the press of a button mounted on the right handlebar, even while moving.
The MP3 Hybrid 300ie uses a ride-by-wire throttle system which moderates how much power is drawn from both the engine and the motor.
Piaggio claims a range of 20 km (12.4 miles) on a full charge of the lithium ion batteries in electric mode. Riding in Hybrid Charge mode will extend that range. According to Piaggio, the average European GT scooter user rides about 6,000 km (3,728 miles) per year, translating to 30 km (18 miles) per day with an estimated 200 days of riding per year.
According to Piaggio, the MP3 Hybrid 300 offers 141 mpg, about twice the fuel economy of an equivalent gasoline-powered scooter, while producing less than half the amount of CO2 emissions. Piaggio produced those figures based on 65% use in Hybrid Power mode and 35% use in electric mode.
The batteries can be charged through a 12V power socket. According to Piaggio, it takes three hours to provide a full charge, though two hours of plug-in time is enough to provide an 85% charge. The battery pack is located under the saddle which takes up some storage room. Piaggio says there is still enough space for a helmet and other objects however.
Like a regular gas-powered MP3, the Hybrid 300ie offers the improved handling and braking from having two front wheels instead of one. A quadrilateral front suspension layout allows the MP3 to tilt into corners like a conventional two-wheeled vehicle. The hybrid powertrain does add some weight to the MP3, with Piaggio claiming a dry weight of 257 kg (566.6 lb.), which would make it about 30 lb. heavier than the 492.7cc Piaggio MP3 500 (known in other markets as the Gilera Fuoco 500). The Piaggio MP3 Hybrid 300ie will be offered in a pearl white color with two-tone saddle.
The Piaggio MP3 Hybrid 300ie is now available in Europe for 7,990 euros (US$9,790). According to Paolo Timoni, president and chief executive officer of Piaggio, American availability for both the 300 and 125 versions is awaiting homologation with the EPA.
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