At EICMA 2016 Piaggio announced it would develop and put into production the E-Vespa concept that was unveiled there. At the time, the concept on show was not much more than an empty shell. But the concept sounded and looked a very rational response to the growing demand for environmentally virtuous urban commuters.

A rationally compact scooter, as the Vespa is, is very functional in traffic; make it electric and it will be a very credible candidate to some kind of environmental Nobel Prize. The Vespa Elettrica was introduced in its final form at EICMA 2017 and there Piaggio put on show the real thing and released a list of basic technical details that Cycle World reported November 2017.

At the time rumors circulated about an additional “sequential-hybrid” edition, featuring a small-displacement internal combustion engine powering an electric generator that will support the electric propulsion system by keeping the lithium-ion batteries at the correct energy level and by that doubling the practical range to almost 130 miles. For now, this additional version remains in the plans, but only the pure electric version goes into production in the historical Piaggio premises in Pontedera, near Pisa.

Vespa Elettrica
The Vespa Elettrica is the size of the 50cc Vespa Primavera.Piaggio

From a structural point of view, the Elettrica is a derivative of the Vespa Primavera, the lighter and more compact model, the right size and mass for easily sneaking through traffic anywhere, even in chaotic Rome. The official pictures show the new scooter in that same paint scheme it featured in the occasion of last year’s unveiling at EICMA: shining silver with light electric blue striping all around the edges of the front shield and of the wheels, sober and with a clear message included. For now the color scheme that will set E-Vespa apart from the other Vespa models will remain based on the same shining silver with yellow and green alternative striping schemes.

Talking of wheels, this version of the Vespa goes back to an 11-inch rear wheel, from the 12-inch wheels all around adopted on the latest edition of the Primavera.

The Vespa Elettrica is equipped with a power unit that underlines its urban mission. The high-efficiency electric motor belongs to the latest generation and was developed by Piaggio’s Electric Motors Department. It delivers a peak power of 4 kW, or 5.4 hp, just about the same as what is generated by a healthy 50cc internal combustion engine, but it delivers 11.0 pound-feet of peak torque, more than that of a very healthy 150cc unit. In addition, the 15:1 motor to rear wheel reduction generates a very strong multiplication of that value, for what is expected to be acceleration performance adequate to stay with traffic.

Vespa Elettrica
The Vespa Elettrica should be able to keep pace with traffic.Piaggio

A lithium-ion battery supplies an undisclosed amount of energy that will be adequate for a range of 100 kilometers (in eco mode which means 2 kW peak power selected). Given the maximum range and the four-hour recharging time from a household socket, I would say that lithium-ion battery should be in the 6 kWh energy capacity. E-Vespa comes complete with the appropriate equipment for in-home garage recharging.

Piaggio’s technicians have added an electronics suite that is one of the most sophisticated ever applied to a two-wheeled vehicle. This is based from a 4.3-inch display by which the rider can manage the highly capable Vespa Multimedia Platform that includes a number of sensors for what is called “assisted driving,” aimed at a superior level of road safety through the ability of interconnecting and communicating with other vehicles—provided they are appropriately equipped.

In this, the Elettrica exploits the experience that Piaggio and Boston MIT have acquired through the development of the Piaggio Fast Forward program which created GIGA, a sort of robotized trolley that faithfully follows its master, being also capable of avoiding obstacles and persons. The adoption of this very sophisticated electronics suite demanded very accurate development and extended testing, in addition to the very traditional and strict validation procedures adopted by Piaggio which are a reason for the very solid reputation Piaggio scooters have achieved through the years. Obviously this extends the times separating the definition of the basic project and the beginning of the Elettrica’s production.

The early production batch of the Vespa Elettrica can be ordered only through a dedicated website starting November; it will come to the main European markets by January 2019 and will be available in the US after that. For now, Piaggio announced the price in Europe: 6,390 euros. US pricing will be confirmed at the time the E-Vespa lands in America.