- READ MORE: The history behind Italy's famous scooter
Piaggio, the Pisa-based maker of Italy’s most famous two-wheeler, has unveiled an electric Vespa that will go on sale in spring 2018 – with an as yet unknown price tag.
The battery-powered Vespa Elettrica is accompanied by a hybrid model, the Elettrica X, that combines a gas-powered generator for extra range.
Both models will be entirely made in Italy at Piaggio’s headquarters in Pontedera.
The manufacturer first announced plans for an electric Vespa in 2016, though it wasn’t until the Milan Motorcycle Show last week that it unveiled its final version.
With a range of 100 kilometres, the Vespa Elettrica’s lithium-ion battery can be recharged by simply plugging in to any ordinary electrical outlet. A full charge takes about four hour, Piaggio said.
The scooter features a colour display screen that not only shows the remaining charge and range but, when connected to drivers’ phone via an app, can also alert them to incoming messages and phone calls.
As for the look, the Vespa Elettrica will retain the distinctive “wasp-like” shape that earned the scooter its name. Only one colour – silver – will be available at first, though buyers can choose from seven different trims.
The new-generation Vespa will lose one thing from the original, though: the vroom. According to Piaggio, its electric motor is entirely silent.
“It’s a gem of all-Italian technology, all made at home – that’s why it’s beautiful, works well and is innovative,” said proud Piaggio president Roberto Colannino at the launch in Milan. “It contains the future of our planet, our future.”
Reducing emissions has become a concern across Italy as smog becomes an increasingly persistent feature of life in cities here. Though most air pollution comes from industry, several Italian cities have restricted the use of cars and scooters in a bid to cut road fumes.
Unlike several of its European neighbour, however, Italy has not announced plans to phase heavily polluting diesel vehicles.