Vespa scooters, which Piaggio makes in Italy, have been icons of European style since the first model premiered in 1946. Countless mega-yachts carry Vespas on deck and in lazarettes for launching onto the roads from Antibes to Monaco. Americans have long loved Vespa’s style too; Hollywood A-listers dating back to Charlton Heston, Audrey Hepburn, John Wayne and Marlon Brando have ridden them on- and off-screen for decades.
Now comes the 21st-century incarnation of the Vespa. Called Elettrica and priced at about $7,200, it is the first silent, electric-powered, zero-carbon-emissions model from the manufacturer. As Vespa puts it, the Elettrica is “a work of art with a technological heart that is born as the symbol of our modern times and the years to come.”
The Elettrica’s power unit can produce continuous juice at 3.5 kW and peak power of 4 kW, allowing for performance that Vespa says is superior to that of a traditional 50cc scooter’s, especially when accelerating or going uphill. Riders have a choice of three modes: eco, power and reverse. In eco mode, speed is limited to about 18 mph, to conserve battery power. Top speed is 30 to 40 mph, as with many traditional 50cc scooters.
The lithium-ion battery recharges with a plug and takes four hours to store a charge that allows for a range of 62 miles—an efficiency that Vespa says will happen without maintenance for 1,000 charging cycles, or about 31,000 to 43,500 miles of use.
In true 21st-century style, the Elettrica and some of its accessories connect to an app. That includes the backpack (shown at left), which has LED piping that can be turned on and off via the app for safety when riding at night. The Vespa app also can be set up to provide push notifications about the scooter’s battery status, statistics on the rider’s 30 most recent trips and number of battery recharge cycles to date.
Digital information for riders is also presented on a 4.3-inch TFT screen, which has four brightness levels and a twilight sensor for switching to night mode. The screen shows typical dashboard information such as battery-charge level and residual range.