Scooters make a lot of sense for electric two-wheeled transport. They tend to be used for short urban commuting journeys. And you can tuck the battery away under the bodywork without making it look odd. And after appearing at Eicma in 2017, the electric Vespa Elettrica goes into production in 2018. Which means you can get the classic brand name and style of the Italian company with more torque than a standard 50cc scooter.
The Vespa Elettrica comes with an electric power unit capable of 2kW continuous power and 4kW peak power, and 200Nm of torque. That means you should be able to out accelerate most vehicles from the lights as you silently pull away. And you won’t have to worry about emission zones.
What you will have to keep in mind is the range. When the pure electric version of the Vespa Elettrica goes into production in 2018, the batteries will give it around 100 kilometres, or 62 miles before it needs charging. Which is a lot less than a pure petrol 50cc Vespa.
You can get a longer range if you choose a hybrid model. The Vespa Elettrica X will come with petrol-powered generator which extends the distance available to 200 kilometres (around 124 miles).
When it comes to recharging, Piaggio claim four hours from a normal wall outlet should get the batteries to full power, and you should be able to get 10 years of use out of them (between 50-70,000 kilometres). Although they also warn that after around 1,000 charge cycles, the batteries will probably only have about 80% of the original capacity, and there’s no confirmation whether you’ll be able to swap them out. So riding to work every weekday will probably mean you lose 20% of your storage within about 4 years.
If you’re willing to put up with the limitations of electric power, there are some benefits to the Vespa Elettrica. You’ll get a 4.3 inch TFT colour display. And you’ll be able to connect via Bluetooth and a dedicated app to access calls and messages, diagnostic information, and the location of your scooter on a map if you’ve mislaid it. And it’ll also connect with a Bluetooth-enabled helmet, include one being released by Vespa to do all the usual voice assistant and music control options you’d expect.
Nothing too revolutionary for a modern motorcycle, but there’s plenty more promised. Piaggio has said that the Vespa Elettrica will be ready to soon be fitted with solutions currently being developed by the company for a robot project named Gita. Examples include artificial intelligence systems which are adaptive, and also responsive to human input.
The AI examples include awareness of people and other nearby vehicles, danger warnings, real-time mapping and traffic, and various personalisation options. So your scooter may recognise you without needing a key fob, and then be able to change how it performs and operates depending on your personal habits and preferences.
Judging by the promotional video, it’ll also allow you to enjoy the ringing in your ears after a night of drinking non-alcoholic beverages at a trendy urban nightspot.
When the Vespa Elettrica goes into production in 2018, it won’t be the first electric scooter on the market. There are already several options, including the Gogoro range. The Taiwanese firm has expanded into Europe with their scooter sharing scheme and the way you can swap the batteries out at docking stations. And although prices haven’t been confirmed, we’d expect the Vespa brand to be slightly pricier, so we wouldn’t expect them to undercut existing models like the Vespa Primavera 50cc for around £3199.
But there won’t be long to wait to find out. The production of the Vespa Elettrica will begin in September 2018 at the Pontedera plant in Pisa where the first Vespa scooters rolled off the production line back in 1946. And you’ll be able to start placing orders for the electric scooter on a dedicated website at the beginning of October ready for the bikes to begin rolling out around the end of October and November, coinciding with the 2018 Milan EICMA show. Sales of the Vespa Elettrica will be for Europe at first, and will then be starting in the United States and Asia in early 2019.
So will you want to try out an electric Vespa, or consider picking one up for your work commute?