The Italian Almanac
News from Piaggio
Piaggio presented its new four-wheel Vespa designed to replace its popular three-wheeled 'Ape' light commercial urban transporter on the Asian and European markets. The new vehicle, known by its project name NT3, "is not a micro-car nor a quadri-cycle. It is a vehicle which represents the 'Ape' of the future," Piaggio Charman Roberto Colaninno said at the opening of the EICMA Motorbike Show. "This vehicle was developed to meet the specific needs of urban transport as identified in a three-year study of the Southeast Asian and European markets," Colaninnio added.
Two versions of the new transporter were presented: a hardtop and a convertible top. Both are three-seaters with the steering mechanism in the middle. The NT3, which has several Vespa features including the style of its rear fender, will be offered with three possible motors: a 200cc, 300cc and a 300cc electric hybrid. The new 'Ape', Colaninno said, stands out for its "low fuel consumption and incredible agility in traffic". The 200cc engine is expected to reach a speed of 60kph, getting 30km per liter and emitting 80g of CO2 per kilometer. "Although it is only 2.4 meters long, the NT3 meets all European safety standards and is equipped with an airbag," he added. The future vehicle is also 1.5m wide and 1.6m high and has a turning radius of 3.7m.
"Piaggio sees this as one of its key products in three year's time. At present the project is 70% complete and all that remains to be decided now is where to produce it," the chairman said. Production, he added, "could take place in India or Vietnam and then later we'll see about Europe".
The three-wheel Piaggio 'Ape' is currently produced in Italy and Asia in a number of versions including as a closed van, an open pickup and rickshaw taxi. The 'Ape' has been in production since 1948.