Vespa Elettrica Review
The Vespa Elettrica is by no means the only modern electric scooter, with many coming from China these days. But the Vespa is only one among them, albeit with the prospect of becoming the basis for a whole range. Today's heroine has the same structure as the Vespa Primavera - a load-bearing monocoque body. The design is even neater thanks to the compactness of the electric motor and the absence of an exhaust system. On top of that, Piaggio's designers picked an extremely pretty shade of silver grey and added contrasting coloured stripes to the edge of the front fairing and around the wheels. My sample had the same spark blue trim as last year's prototype, and I have to say it's one of the most successful.
The Elettrica is fitted with a 4-kilowatt motor. This is the maximum power allowed for mopeds. Thanks to this, insurance costs are extremely low and owners will not be charged road tax. The entire electronic powertrain has been developed by Piaggio, including a 4.2-kilowatt air-cooled lithium-ion battery. The Piaggio Electric division, in collaboration with LG Chem, which supplies the battery cells, created an excellent 48-volt battery that is robust and reliable. This is no small achievement, as lithium-ion batteries are not only efficient but also extremely delicate: improper operating conditions, including weather, deep discharge, overcharge or strain are critical for them. I think that stone pavements with rails can also be considered challenging conditions.
The reliability of any Vespa has always been a priority since the brand's inception in 1946. Like all electric motors, the Piaggio-Vespa unit develops much more peak thrust than we are used to getting from petrol engines, and in this respect the 4kW motor is no exception: it produces 200Nm from the bottom, as they say, from zero rpm. This means that the machine accelerates instantly without any need for a gear change - a 15:1 primary ratio is sufficient.
The Elettrica is even easier and more comfortable to handle than any other Vespa. All the rider needs to do is select power mode (full or Eco) and regeneration intensity (one of two positions). The power mode switch can also be used to activate reverse (easily implemented on electric motors) for even easier handling in car parks. The Vespa Elettrica communicates with the rider via the colour LCD display in the centre of the steering wheel, as well as via a dedicated app on a Bluetooth-connected smartphone.
The Elettrica is very lightweight, both on the move and when parked. Response, even to a small movement of the throttle lever, is immediate and confident, yet completely controllable. No sudden upshifts, but the acceleration from traffic lights is more than sufficient to pull away from the cars, which is very confidence inspiring. The Elettrica is quick to reach 50 km/h and maintains that speed, and although at some point the traffic catches up with it, it's no longer dangerous. The mopeds have a top speed of 50 km/h and the Vespa respects the rules. In real life, such a machine is extremely functional and practical, and even provides fun if you want it.
Speaking of real life, the battery charging should definitely be mentioned. The Elettrica recharges from a regular 220-volt outlet within 4 hours. This should include a place for charging that is protected from unwise or unkind people, a garage or some sort of car park with a fence. A full charge lasts about 100km in Eco mode, which provides half the peak power and a top speed of 32km/h, but does not limit peak torque or acceleration, which is most important in the city. The ample range in such conditions undoubtedly makes life easier, as the normal daily commute in European cities is around 10km, which means it only needs to be charged once a week.