motorcycle Honda Numa Hybrid

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The future is here! well progress is progressing. Petrol/Electric 3 wheeled Hybrid. How does 140MPG sound to you?

There has been plenty of work done on production electric scooters, while the automotive world seems focussed on hybrid technology. Well Piaggio took the opportunity of the EICMA show in Milan to reveal a production ready Hybrid scooter. Now we all know about the MP3, the technology is now proven and if you have ridden one you will know how well it works.

The Hybrid takes this radical, modern looking scooter to the next level. According to Piaggio’s information this Parallel Hybrid should do around 141MPG. I will hold judgement of this figure untill it can be tested. It isn’t completely unbelievable though as the new MP3’s charging and running system seems to run a well balanced combination of combustion and electric power.

The idea of the Parallel Hybrid is that the Petrol engine and the Electrics are linked both mechanically and electronically linked and supply power either simultaneously or individually. So both power sources can drive the MP3 under heavy load, normally the petrol engine, boosted by the electric motor, or you can switch the petrol engine off (via a handlebar switch) for use within restricted, inner city areas, short commutes and the like.

This combination means there is plenty of range available, especially when you take into account that the petrol engine charges the batteries. Further still there is this incredible device. called a plug which is attached via a cable to the bike. this plug is then inserted into your regular wall socket and will recharge the batteries in just 3 hours. This means that if you have a short commute you can keep your fuel use to zero and then use the combined power for longer or higher speed trips.Â

It would appear that storage has been somewhat reduced to house the batteries although Piaggio tell us there is still room for a helmet, I suspect it will be the European spec open face device. Even so this would appear to be a pretty damn useful device if it is half as good as the press release maintains it is.

Full Press release on page 2:


Environmental issues and the need for environment-friendly transport have always been a priority for Piaggio. The company has launch today an hybrid engine that will undoubtedly revolutionise urban transport. These are not merely ‘dual-engine scooters’ — they are absolutely innovative vehicles that match a traditional thermal engine with low environmental impact to a zero-emissions electric engine to create a winning combination.

Piaggio’s Hybrid prototype are based on the MP3 model, the revolutionary three-wheeler scooter. The Hybrid Scooter is an environment-friendly ‘all-rounder’ with low running costs.

Scooters has come to symbolise urban mobility: they’re the ideal way to zip through congested town traffic and fun to use on weekend trips.

In recent years, however, many towns have tackled the need to reduce pollution by creating an increasing number of restricted traffic zones, where even scooters are banned entry. Manufacturers have responded with zero-emissions electric vehicles for unrestricted travel.

Thermal and electric engines both have advantages and disadvantages that are often complementary. Combustion engines offer better range, power and ‘lunge’, but give out exhaust gas, although the current Euro 3 norm place strict limits on these. Electric engines are zero-emission and offer very quick pick-up from a stopped position, but the batteries have low range and limited speed.

With the Piaggio MP3 Hybrid, riders no longer have to choose between performance and environment friendliness or between a vehicle to commute in town and one for longer trips.

MP3 Hybrid is equipped with the revolutionary hybrid scooter engine prototype, a marked evolution as regards urban transport that combines the advantages of gasoline and electric engines.

The Piaggio MP3 Hybrid does not merely put two engine types on a single vehicle. The two engines are part of a sophisticated system that combines combustion engine power and electric motor pick-up. This hybrid scooter can go into restricted traffic zones and travel out of town.

It’s two scooters in one — practical, easy, fun all-round transport.

Two engines in one

Piaggio MP3 Hybrid is a “parallel” hybrid in which a combustion engine and an electric motor are mechanically and electronically linked and simultaneously supply power to the wheel.

In this linked gas/electric engine, the gasoline engine behaves like a normal catalysed four-stroke engine with excellent performance and distance range on the one hand and low emissions and fuel consumption on the other. The automatic gearbox, electric ignition and the innovative Ride-By-Wire system provide the usual zip and ease of use in town as well as out-of-town trips. The gas engine offers sparkling performance in standard running, charging the electric motor all the while.

And, whenever the rider needs to accelerate particularly fast — when starting from a stopped position, for example — the electric motor assists the engine, supplying about 85% extra performances that gives the vehicle snappier, more efficient acceleration over the first few metres, when it is really needed in town riding.

In-built electronic management combines the two engines to offer not only better acceleration but also about a reduction in fuel consumption (up to 60 km/l) and in CO2 emissions, only 40 g/km (using 65% the hybrid modes and 35% the electric one).

motorcycle Honda Numa Hybrid

The Piaggio Hybrid is not your average hybrid engine: other scooters may stop, but the Piaggio MP3 Hybrid keeps going, quick and silent, because it can also work in electric-only.

The rider simply turns a handlebar switch to shut down the combustion engine and turn the Piaggio Hybrid into a totally environment-friendly scooter, a zero-emissions vehicle that can go into any area closed to other types of traffic. Another turn of the switch and the thermal engine turns itself on and goes back to being the main engine, charging the battery as it travels through areas open to normal traffic.

The scooter’s range can be optimised in the garage by charging the battery from an electricity source using the battery charger. This reduces running costs, electricity being cheaper than gasoline.

Technology at the turn of a switch

The Piaggio MP3 Hybrid uses very innovative, avant-garde technical solutions but remains incredibly easy and intuitive to use.

The rider uses all the normal controls (accelerator, brakes and additional handlebar commands) as well as a specific switch to choose one of the different operating modes: two hybrid and two electric-only (reverse included).

Hybrid manages power output from the two engines, thermal and electric, using a ride-by-wire type system: the electronic management system interprets the rider’s request for more torque and selects the assist ratio based on the state of the system (e.g. the level of battery charge). During deceleration and braking, the control system recovers and accumulates power that is lost on normal vehicles in the battery.

The three hybrid modes are conceived to optimize performances, consumption and battery charge.

In electric-only mode, the Piaggio Hybrid shuts down the combustion engine and turns into a silent, zero-emission electric vehicle.

Ride-by-wire technology not only allows the control system to optimally manage the combined power output of the two engines but also ‘forces’ the thermal engine to work when it can be most efficient, thereby reducing specific consumption, with obvious advantages in terms of lower consumption and emissions.

All this technology is neatly tucked away. Piaggio MP3 Hybrid looks like any standard MP3.

The traction batteries are hidden in the under-seat storage space, which is sufficiently large to also hold a helmet.

There is a battery charge indicator on the dashboard. The battery can be recharged from an electricity source by inserting a normal cable into the plug provided for this purpose. Charging time is about three hour.

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