© Photo | Piaggio & C. S.p.A.

Three-wheel saver

Silently cruising around town with zero emis­sions – the Piaggio MP3

Silently cruising around town with zero emis­sions. The Piaggio MP3 is the world’s first hybrid scooter — and ebm-papst is on board.

Piaggio’s “three-wheeler” does look a bit unusual. But with two wheels at the front and one at the rear, the MP3 drives as smoothly as a conven­tional scooter — it is just much safer. And now it is also espe­cially envi­ron­men­tally friendly. For the last year, this new vehicle concept — the world’s first hybrid scooter — has been driving around cities and along open roads. The Piaggio MP3 Hybrid demon­strates that perfor­mance really is compat­ible with ecology. The econom­ical combus­tion engine makes trips into the coun­try­side a sporty expe­ri­ence, and in the hybrid power mode, the combus­tion engine needs up to one litre of fuel for 60 kilo­me­tres. That is 50 percent less than compa­rable vehi­cles. But the real high­light is the second heart that powers the Piaggio MP3 Hybrid: the elec­tric motor. This can take the rider up to 20 kilo­me­tres through the city, silently and completely free of emis­sions.

It is recharged from a stan­dard mains socket. But the battery is rarely flat. The elec­tric motor also doubles up as an alter­nator, recharging the battery while driving, as it gets slower and when it is braking. To enable the direct current motor to work with the power from the mains socket, the 230 volts are converted in a frequency inverter and then stored in a light­weight yet powerful and durable lithium battery. Two fans from ebm-papst ensure that the frequency inverter does not get too hot during this work.

At the start of the devel­op­ment, Piaggio addressed the problem of obtaining a reli­able, econom­ical and quiet fan based on a stan­dard model. After tests with DC brush motors had proven unsat­is­fac­tory, the world­fa­mous scooter manu­fac­turer approached the italian subsidiary of ebm-papst. “Thanks to our expe­ri­ence in the auto­mo­tive industry, Piaggio decided in favour of our EC tech­nology,” explains Paolo Pianazza, project manager at ebm-papst italy. “The customer’s wishes involved a number of chal­lenges for us. While both models can be found in this form in the cata­logue, the outer fan in partic­ular required certain char­ac­ter­is­tics that were specially devel­oped for Piaggio.”

This fan conducts the heat away from the cooler plate of the frequency inverter. It is located under the seat in the direc­tion of travel and is there­fore exposed to mois­ture and dirt. A plastic housing and protec­tion rating iP54 now protect the elec­tronics in the fan from water, dust, mud shocks and vibra­tions.

At the end of the day, the two fans are expected to last the full service life of the scooter. More­over, a speed signal and a wiring harness to suit the customer’s design had to be devel­oped for Piaggio. The second model gener­ates an airflow within the frequency inverter itself, and is able to work there up to a maximum temper­a­ture of 80 degrees Celsius.

As soon as the scooter starts, the two fans run without inter­rup­tion, and without consuming very much power. To ensure that the two fans cannot be heard, espe­cially when the engine is idling, ebm-papst’s engi­neers adapted the neces­sary airflow and ramp pres­sure to obtain an accept­able noise level. Pianazza stresses that the new scooter and ebm-papst tech­nology are a perfect match. “Dura­bility with good perfor­mance, good effi­ciency and low current draw are the bene­fits drawn from the fans in the Piaggio MP3 Hybrid. The scooter superbly fits our corpo­rate philos­ophy of supporting inno­v­a­tive devel­op­ments in the field of energy saving.”

And there can be no doubt that the Piaggio MP3 Hybrid is econom­ical: in the hybrid power mode, up to 40 grams per kilo­metre, carbon dioxide emis­sions from the scooter are 50 percent less than most of its two-wheeled compan­ions. This is the achieve­ment of the intel­li­gent control system that opti­mally combines the combus­tion engine and the elec­tric motor. If rapid accel­er­a­tion is needed, or uphill gradi­ents need to be effort­lessly mastered, the elec­tric motor will support the combus­tion engine to briefly boost output by up to 85 percent. Another example of outstanding team­work.

23_piaggio_system_e1Driving with the combus­tion engine the battery is recharged while braking. In the hybrid power mode the combus­tion and the elec­tric motor work together. In the city the elec­tric motor cruises silently and with zero emis­sions. Then the battery is recharged from a stan­dard mains socket. Ever­thing is controlled by the Vehicle Manage­ment System (VMS).

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