Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Vespa LX50 HyS - Hybrid Motor Scooter

I'm getting to like being almost car free. Last week the only day I took a car to work was to show it to a co-worker who wanted to buy it.

Although I'm really liking bicycle riding and I just got a free bus pass from work, there's still something holding me back from selling my car. What about when crunch time hits and I'm going home late at night? How about when we have to take our one car to the shop and I've got to pick up my wife? I can't have her ride on the handle bars of my bicycle and although the bus system in Los Angeles is quite extensive, we're spoiled after so many years of owning our own cars.

A motor scooter is one possible solution--I just got my motorcycle permit just to keep my options open. There are some interesting all electric scooters, but what if I run out of juice on the road? Recharging the batteries takes longer than filling a gas tank. In addition, the electricity in our area is generated by burning oil so it isn't exactly clean energy. The old two-stroke scooters are dirty, noisy and don't get great gas mileage, but the new 4-stroke models are a big improvement.

Of course the Vespa is pretty much the standard when it comes to motor scooters and their smaller, 50cc engines, reportedly get up to 80 miles per gallon. However, Piaggio, the company that makes the Vespa, announced a hybrid model that get something around 140 miles per gallon.

So when I'm not riding the bike or the bus I might be running around town on a Hybrid Vespa and saying, "Ciao!" (Eddie Izzard reference.)

Here's the lowdown on the little Vespa Hybrid scooter.
The HyS (Hybrid Scooter) models are parallel hybrids, combining four-stroke combustion engines with electric motors. The electric motor provides power assist, supplying a 25% boost in power for acceleration over the first few meters (a good feature for lunging through urban traffic), while at the same time supporting a 20% decrease in fuel consumption.

The rider uses all the normal controls (accelerator, brakes and additional handlebar commands) as well as a specific switch to choose one of four operating modes:

* Standard hybrid
* High-charge hybrid
* Low-charge hybrid
* Electric-only

In the first three modes the HyS manages power output from the engine and the motor using a drive-by-wire type system. The electronic management system interprets the rider’s request for more torque and selects the assist ratio based on the battery’s state of charge.

Regenerative braking recharges the batteries.

In standard-hybrid mode the battery charge is maintained at optimal traction levels (batteries at 75%). The high-charge hybrid function is geared to maximize the range of the electric motor (batteries at 95%).

If, on the other hand, the rider wishes to recharge the batteries using the 220V battery charger by plugging into a power outlet, he or she can use the low-charge hybrid mode (batteries at 20%) to obtain maximum performance with minimum consumption. (Charging time is about three hours.)

In electric-only mode, the Piaggio HyS shuts down the combustion engine and turns into a silent, zero-emission electric vehicle—an important consideration for those European cities that are increasingly placing restrictions on emitting vehicles.

The control system not only manages the combined power output of the engine and motor, but also forces the engine to work when it can be most efficient, thereby reducing specific consumption, with advantages in terms of lower consumption and emissions.


The3rdofThree said...

Hi, I am working on a grad project about hybrid Vespas. Do you mind providing me with some of the sources you have found during your research? For some reason, I'm having a hard time even when I contacted a few dealers they had no information.

Ethan the Emazing said...

Thanks for all the info on the scooter. It looks like one powerful machine.