Tony O'Kane | Jul 8, 2009

ITALIAN SCOOTER COMPANY Piaggio has taken launched the world's first commercially-available plug-in hybrid scooter, the MP3 Hybrid.

Based on the company's innovative three-wheeled large scooter, the MP3, the MP3 Hybrid marries a 2.6kW electric motor and a small lithium-ion battery pack to a conventional 125cc petrol engine.

Able to be plugged into a mains outlet and be fully charged within three hours, the Piaggio MP3 Hybrid can also be used without sparing a single drop of petrol.

A full charge is good for 20km of travel, which should be more than adequate for the average scooter-riding commuter. Unfortunately, top speed under electric-only power is limited to 30km/h - not an issue in the peak-hour grind, but not exactly convenient on clear roads either.

piaggio_mp3-hybrid_01

When used in conjunction with the petrol engine, Piaggio says the electric drive system gives the MP3 three-wheeler the acceration of a 250cc scooter, and boosts performance and range markedly.

How economical is it? Piaggio says if the MP3 is used in hybrid mode 65 percent of the time and electric-only mode for the remaining 35 percent, it should return an astonishing 1.67l/100km on the combined cycle.

The Piaggio MP3 Hybrid is on sale now in Italy for a hefty €9,000 (AU$15,900), however an Australian release has yet to be announced. If it does come here don't count on it being cheap, but steep price or not, we're certain there's bound to be more than a few buyers that'll be enticed by such astounding fuel economy.

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