The Piaggio MP3 Hybrid has been available in Europe since 2009, but will finally make its way to North America in the second half of 2011. Unfortunately, Piaggio Group Americas will only be offering the 125 version of the MP3 Hybrid but not the 300 version available overseas.
Powered by a 124cc four-stroke engine and a synchronous brushless permanent magnet electric motor in a parallel configuration, the MP3 Hybrid can run in a fully electric zero-emission mode. The MP3 Hybrid can also run in two hybrid modes, Charge and Power.
In Hybrid Charge mode, power from the combustion engine is used to charge the lithium ion batteries. In Hybrid Power mode, the electric motor provides a boost during standing starts and brisk acceleration. A ride-by-wire system manages the power delivery between the two power plants with Piaggio claiming an 85% boost in performance.
The rider can switch between electric mode and the two hybrid modes while in motion with the press of a button. The electric motor can also be switched to a reverse mode to help guide the Piaggio MP3 Hybrid for parking and in tight spaces.
According to Piaggio, the hybrid powertrain produces 15hp at 8500rpm and 11.8 ft-lb. at 3000 rpm while the electric mode produces 3.5hp and 11 ft-lb. Piaggio also claims fuel consumption of 141 mpg, running hybrid mode 65% of the time and electric mode for the other 35% while releasing 40 g/km in CO2 emissions (by comparison, Piaggio claims 90 g/km for the average gasoline-powered scooter).
The batteries can be charged in approximately three hours while plugging the MP3 Hybrid in for two hours is enough for an 85% charge. The batteries also receive a charge during braking, in addition to the gasoline engine in hybrid charge mode.
The Piaggio MP3 Hybrid is the only MP3 listed in Piaggio’s 2011 U.S. product lineup and at $8,499, it is priced slightly lower than the MSRP of $8,699 for the 2010 MP3 400cc, and the $8,899 MP3 500 but higher than the $7,199 MP3 250. They will be joined by the MP3 City (also known as the MP3 Yourban in other markets) in 2012.