There's a couple of reasons I like the look of Piaggio's new plug-in MP3 Hybrid Scooter.
The first is the technology. According to Piaggio, the MP3 will be capable of up to 141 miles per gallon, with zero-to-sixty times of five seconds. The battery is recharged by wall socket in only three hours, with regenerative braking helping to keep the battery juiced as you're puttering around. All of which adds up to squeezing as much gas mileage as possible out of the MP3's 125-cc gasoline engine.
But I also really like the design: a sort of backwards tricycle, as designed by Starfleet engineers. It doesn't have the classic lines or tiny toy wheels of a Vespa, but that's why I like it. A scooter's defining trait — the tiny wheels — is what makes them incredibly dangerous. An unexpected curve, bump or pothole is enough to completely discombobulate your balance and send you flying (which is how I broke a few of my limbs on a scooter back in 2002), while a motorcycle would barely feel the jar. That third stabilizing wheel goes a long way to making the scooter safer for its riders.
Piaggio says the two front wheels are still capable of 40 degree turns like any other scooter or motorcycle, and improves traction, stability and braking. I believe it.
No firm release date or price yet, but Piaggio says they could hit dealerships as early as 2009.