© 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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