August 27, 2018 Filed under: Vespa | 2019 Models
PRODUCTION STARTS IN SPRING 2019
Back in November Vespa showed off an all electric concept scooter called the Elettrica at the EICMA motorcycle show in Milan. Now today Vespa has announced they are taking this model to production, with the first examples rolling off the production line in September.
Production will be slow to start, but Vespa hopes to start deliveries in November. Interestingly, Vespa has announced that they are going to sell this model worldwide including the USA, with sales starting there in spring 2019. Thus it will become the first small electric scooter in North America from one of the major brands, as previous electrics from BMW and Vectrix have been larger maxiscooters.
Vespa has equipped the Elettrica with an engine that offers 4 kW peak power (5.4 horsepower) and 2 kW (2.7 horsepower) sustained. That might sound firmly in 50cc territory, but this scooter should be quick off the line because electric torque is instant and abundant. The Elettrica boasts an incredible 148 ft-lbs - more than any other scooter today. For reference, a Suzuki Burgman 650 offers a mere 46 ft-lbs. That specification seems hard to believe, but if true, should be a maniacal wheelie machine. Perhaps their spec is crank torque before it is reduced by the final gear ratios, but still it’s going to leap off the line.
Top speed is not announced, but I expect a peak velocity in the 40 - 45 mph range, similar to a typical 50cc. Anything higher would eat through the range much quicker and thus require more of the expensive batteries, but Vespa is hoping to keep this model semi-affordable. For the first year at least, the range is rated at 62 miles (100 km).
Vespa is also going to offer the scooter in a restricted “Eco” version that is likely being designed to meet e-Bike regulations to compete with the growing popularity of that niche. This approach seems misguided, as it’s hard to imagine there are a lot of folks wanting an e-Bike to save on insurance/registration costs, yet also willing to pay thousands more for a Vespa branded one. Then again, fewer young folks are getting drivers licences these days, and Vespa might make it easy to derestrict these models, so outlaw owners might get the best of both worlds.
A final version is the Elettrica X, which features a gas generator to extend the range. That sounds good, but I don’t think this version is a wise choice since you give up a lot of electric range (31 miles versus 60) and accept the added weight and hassle of a gas engine. Since Vespa seems to be putting together a city oriented machine, it’s hard to imagine that 60 miles won’t be enough so it seems best to just keep things simple and take the longer range model. A range extended version would made more sense if the top speed was high enough to be reasonable for road tripping, such that a gas generator would enable that compared to the slow charging times of the battery.
Charging times for the Elettrica are 4 hours, which is okay. That’s about as good as you can do on a normal plug, but you could do much faster at a DC fast charging station like electric cars use, if Vespa had designed for this. However with a urban top speed of 45 mph, you should have enough range to get you through the day anyways. Hopefully someday soon we’ll soon see updated versions that work with DC fast charging stations. Most likely we’ll see that once batteries are cheap enough to use in higher speed models.
Battery life is spec’d at about 35,000 miles (60,000 kms) or 10 years, which seems alright. A replacement would likely be cheap by that point in time anyways.
Three years ago I wrote about the coming tide of electric scooters. In that piece I suggested that a winning electric scooter would boats 45 mph top speed, 60 miles of range and a 20 minute charge time. Vespa looks like they’ve achieved two of these three criteria which should make for a compelling city scooter. Hopefully they can continue to improve those metrics while reducing the charging time to create a road trip worthy machine.
The cost of the Elettrica is unannounced, but Vespa says it will be similar to their other models. Since the Elettrica seems targeted at the 50cc niche, I’m expecting an MSRP around $4000 USD but they could surprise with a much higher price.
April 10, 2018 Filed under: Honda | 2019 Models
2019 PCX150 OFFERS NEW FRAME, BODYWORK AND LCD DISPLAY
Honda has announced a new generation of their popular PCX 150 for 2019, which will be arriving in the USA in July. The new PCX features a new frame, new body work, an updated motor, tweaks to the tires, brakes and suspension, and a nice LCD instrument panel. Honda claims the new PCX offers a premium feel and improved handling.
Most notably, the new 2019 PCX150 boasts a new frame and body work. On first glance, it looks similar to the previous model, but when you look closer it becomes clear that major changes have occurred. Indeed, all the body work is new. While the lines are a similar, they’ve been refreshed throughout to be a little more curvy, such as the rear flanks. Actually, the new body style has been taken from the electric version of the PCX that Honda unveiled this past November at the Tokyo Auto Show.
Honda says the new frame adds stability and saves a bit of weight but not much as it’s still steel. Also saving a little weight is the new 8 spoke rims, which look nice in a dark grey. In total, the 2019 PCX150 comes in 6 lbs lighter at 289 lbs wet weight.
While the core motor is carrying over for 2019, it has been heavily updated. It actually loses a little displacement because the bore has been reduced by 0.7mm, so displacement is now 149cc (from 153cc). However, top end power is said to be increased via a new freer flowing intake, air filter and exhaust. The new power specs are 13.3 HP at 8500 RPM and 10.3 ft-lbs of torque at 5000 RPM, which is actually identical to the power specs of the outgoing PCX except for a 0.1 decline in horsepower, so we’ll have to trust Honda that the power peak has been broadened.
The brakes and suspension are mostly carrying over. The brakes look to be identical for 2019, except for optional ABS on the front wheel (only) for an extra $300. The front suspension returns unchanged, while the rear suspension gets new springs, 0.2” more travel, and the shocks get mounted back a few inches for improved stability.
A big part of Honda’s claim of improved handling likes come from the tires, which grow wider for 2019. The front tire moves 10mm wider to 100/80-14 (from 90/90-14), while the rear tire becomes 20mm wider (120/70-14 instead of 100/90-14). That probably offsets Honda’s weight savings elsewhere, but should improve braking and handling.
In terms of features and amenities, Honda has eeked out an extra liter of under seat storage (now 28), and switched to a nice LCD instrument panel. Honda is also claiming the PCX has all LED lighting, but the outgoing model already had LED headlights and brake lights, so maybe it’s just the signals that have been updated.
The 2019 PCX150 is slated to arrive in USA showrooms in July. Pricing is up $100 for 2019 to $3699, unless you want that front wheel ABS for an additional $300.
Overseas they get numerous color options including the awesome matte black shown below, but colors in the USA are limited to just one option for 2019 - the “Bright Bronze Metallic” shown above. For full details on the PCX including prior generations, check out the PCX page.
A BOUNTY OF EIGHT NEW SCOOTERS FOR 2018
With all the 2018 scooter lineups from the major manufacturers announced, it’s time to round up the new, improved and departed scooter models. Once you are familiar with the new models, please take a second to vote for your favorite in our poll:
New 2018 Scooters
There is seven or eight new scooter models heading into 2018, depending on how you count it, which is a fantastic number compared to the one or two new machines that arrived in recent years. Technically, BMW’s C Evolution is arriving as a 2017 model, but it wasn’t on sale until recent months. Conversely, Piaggio’s Liberty is labelled a 2018 model, but it arrived nearly a year ago. We discussed the Liberty last year but skipped doing the poll last year because the Liberty was the only option, so it’s included now.
The big theme for 2018 is the explosion of the mid-sized maxiscooter market. Five of the new scooters compete in this category. That includes Suzuki offering a brand new generation of Burgman 400 (above, right), which will compete with brand new 300 - 400cc models from BMW (C 400 X), Kymco (X-Town 300, Xciting 400) and Yamaha (XMAX, above left). A curious trend here is the obsession with the letter X, with BMW, Kymco and Yamaha all incorporating it into their new model names.
BMW brought the biggest news for 2018 by expanding into the mid-sized maxi market and by offering an alternative powertrain (electric). BMW finally brought their electric C Evolution (above left) maxiscooter to North America this fall, even if it is expensive ($13.5g) and limited to California. Details on BMW’s new mid-sized maxi-scooter, the C 400 X (above right), are sparse, but an MSRP is announced for Canada ($7540) and it should available in time for the warm riding weather in both markets. The C 400 X should expand BMWs scooter sales dramatically. In the USA it’s likely to be priced around $6g, compared to $10g for BMWs full size maxis.
Also mixing things up was Kymco - as they often do. Kymco replaced their Downtown and People GT 300 models with the new X-Town 300 scooter (above right). On first glance the X-Town doesn’t look like anything special, but it’s priced to sell at a list price of only $3999 compared to $5600 for the outgoing mid-sized Kymco’s. As such, it’s a killer bargain compared to every other 300cc offering, so Kymco should sweep up the budget buyers. To further compete in the mid-sized segment, Kymco shrunk their Xciting (above left) down to 400cc (from 500cc), which offers larger riders some more leg room.
In the smaller scooter realm, Kymco’s new Like 150 is a brand new machine with a nice all new style and all the power of the older Like 200 at a lower price. This scooter competes closely with Vespa’s offerings, and will also compete for value buyers with Piaggio’s 2018 Liberty 150.
Lastly, Vespa was quiet for 2018 except for the introduction of a new Sei Giorni variant of their GTV model. The Sei Giorni commemorates Vespa’s racing success in the 50’s with a new olive green racing paint job. The Sei Giorni doesn’t make the poll, as it’s changes are only paint deep.
Three of the four discontinued models for 2018 were Kymco’s making room for new models (X-Town 300 replaces Downtown 300 and People GT 300), while the Xciting 400 replaces the Xciting 500.
However, there is one truly sad loss: Genuine’s Stella. The Stella has been the last living remanent of Vespa’s PX series in North America, and an important part of the scooter scene over the past decade. Reportedly, it’s demise comes as a result of manufacturer LML hitting financial issues and choosing to move away from production of this low volume scooter. Thus the last vestige of the Vespa PX era has come to a close.Total Models
Heading into 2018 there is a total of 46 substantially different scooter models on sale in the USA from the nine major manufacturers we cover here on MotorScooterGuide (and nearly that many models in Canada). That’s a conservative count which lumps Vespa’s numerous style variants into the same model, but does consider different displacements of the same machine as separate models.
As usual, Kymco leads with the largest line up (9 scooters) but Piaggio (8) isn’t far behind. The rest of the makers offer 3-7 models each except for Aprilia, which has just been hanging on in recent years with one (SR Motard). Honda’s also on a bit of downward trend, with only 3 models now that the Forza is gone, and this includes the 16 year old Ruckus which is rather old although still from beating the Elite 80’s record for the longest market run of 23 years.
As usual, part two of the State of the Scooter Scene annual report will occur in a few months, where we’ll run down scooter sales in the past year. If you haven’t already, please vote in the poll to help select the 2018 MSG Reader’s Pick for Best New Scooter.