Vespa scooters have been a regular feature on our roads since the 1940s. Anybody passing them today – particularly an older model – will notice that they, well, smell. Depending on your age, that smell of hot oil may bring back memories of Mods in the 1960s or of carefree summers with the wind blowing in your hair. (younger readers won’t know this but helmets weren’t compulsory until 1973).
The good news is that Vespa scooters will still be on our roads for many years to come but the smell will soon disappear, as Vespa has announced that its scooters are to go electric.
The Vespa Electtrica – as it will be known – will go on sale next month (October). As it will be battery-powered, not only will the smell go but the distinct engine noise too, as the Electtrica will be silent.
Don’t worry that you won’t be able to hear it coming, as it will only have a top speed (when in Eco-driving mode) of nineteen miles an hour, so you’ll have plenty of time to see it coming.
And what it lacks in speed it will more than make up for in technical wizardry. The scooters will come fitted with an AI system that ‘will provide users with real-time mapping and traffic data, as well as the ability to detect if a pedestrian is about to walk into the road in front of the vehicle’. (That’s comforting for the rider although not necessarily for the pedestrian). Riders will also be able to connect their phones to the bike using Bluetooth and this will also allow them to access the digital dashboard and use the navigation services.
Clearly, you can do everything you want to do except drive fast. That’s probably no bad thing as more and more local authorities are limiting driving speeds to twenty miles an hour in urban roads anyway so remaining just one mile an hour underneath it might feel quite satisfying , as well as always being legal.
Strangely, manufacturer Piaggio Group has remained tight-lipped about the price of its new scooter, as well as its top speed.