Yes, it’s true – an electric version of the iconic Vespa scooter made by Italian vehicle maker Piaggio Group is finally going into production.
The Italian company announced that it will start making the “Vespa Elettrica” this month at its Pontedera plant in the province of Pisa, with a view to making the electric scooters available for orders by the beginning of October.
It’s better late than never – the first electric Vespa was actually launched back in 2016 at the International Cycle and Motorcycle Show (EICMA) in Milan. But it’s taken this long to get into production.
To many, the Italian Vespa, which first rolled off the production line back in 1946, evokes the essence of agile and chic – think Audrey Hepburn in the film “Roman Holiday.”
But the iconic two-stroke Vespa is also loud, and by most accounts, stinky.
With the launch of sales next month however, the stylish Vespa Elettrica can start to shed its noisy reputation – with a silent electric drivetrain, output of up to 4 kW or 5 horsepower, torque of 200Nm and a range of 100 km.
Piaggio Group aren’t stopping at a mere electric scooter though – they have also stated that with the launch of the EV Vespa, they will take the company in a “direction of a new richness of interconnection between vehicles and human operators.”
That is, they will be fitting the scooter out with AI systems currently under development for a one-wheel transport robot called Gita that is being developed by the group’s future mobility design arm, Piaggio Fast Forward.
The AI technology will allow the scooter to recognise the presence of nearby pedestrians and vehicles, anticipating potential risks and signaling traffic, as well as offering alternative routes.
The new generation Vespa will also be able to recognize its owner automatically, says the company – although they don’t elaborate on the specifics, merely that it will not be via a key.
Sure to draw a cult following in much the way of its petrol predecessor, it will not be without a hefty hit on the wallet – the Italian company says the price will be “in line with the high-end bracket of the Vespa range presently being marketed”.
With a range of personalised options such as the rim of the wheels, the profile of the “Vespa” plate and the saddle cadet (available in seven colors), and accessories like a high tech “Jet helmet” available – it’s possible customers will end up paying the price of a small car.
The scooter, which will first go on sale via a website dedicated to the purpose, will first be offered for sale in Europe in time for EICMA 2018, and then extended for sale in America and Asian markets (no mention of Australia specifically so we will just have to cross our fingers and hope Asia includes here!).
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She specialises in writing about new technology and has been writing about electric vehicles for two years. She has a keen interest in the role that zero emissions transport has to play in sustainability and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum.