Piaggio’s new 2010 MP3 Hybrid makes hybrid technology accessible to Europe: riders no longer have to choose between performance and ecology, between a vehicle for accessing the city centre and one capable of longer journeys, even beyond the city limits.The MP3 Hybrid is powered by a revolutionary hybrid drive system developed first by the Piaggio Group for a scooter application. It combines the advantages of a petrol engine with those of an electric motor. These synergies between the two powerplants are achieved with an integrated electronic management that does not only offer better performance but also reduces fuel consumption.The Piaggio MP3 Hybrid can return up to 140 mpg, compared with an average of 60 mpg for petrol scooters with mid-sized engines. The CO2 emissions are lees than half of a conventional internal combustion engine scooter (figures for the MP3 Hybrid calculated considering 65% use in hybrid mode and 35% use in electric mode).As well as giving the scooter its impressive performance, while it runs, the internal combustion engine also recharges the batteries used to power the electric heart of the vehicle. However, the symbiotic relationship between the two powerplants of the Piaggio MP3 Hybrid does not end here: whenever the rider calls for particularly brisk acceleration, such as when setting off from a standing start, for example, the electric motor kicks in, supplementing the petrol unit to provide up to an 85% boost in performance, offering more immediate and responsive pickup during the first few metres – which is precisely where it is most needed in city use.The MP3 Hybrid is more than just another hybrid system: where other scooters have to stop, Piaggio MP3 Hybrid keeps on going swiftly and quietly, as it can also run on electric power alone. Simply press the button on the handlebar to disengage the petrol engine and turn MP3 Hybrid into a totally ecological scooter, a zero emissions vehicle that can circulate freely in areas restricted to internal combustion engines. The electric motor also offers the Piaggio MP3 Hybrid an ultra-quiet reverse mode, which is handy for parking and for maneuvering out of tight spaces.Piaggio MP3 Hybrid is the first vehicle in the world to combine plug-in charging from the mains with lithium ion batteries which – with their superior energy density and reliability – offering higher performance, greater lightness and increased longevity than the technologies currently in use. The battery pack, with integrated control electronics, is hidden away in the compartment under the saddle, which still has enough room to accommodate a helmet and other objects.An indicator integrated into the dashboard lets the rider keep a constant eye on the battery charge level. The vehicle is charged easily from the mains with a normal electrical cable, plugged into the relative socket with the panel switched off. The full charge cycle takes approximately three hours, although 85% charge is achieved in just two hours.Visually the Piaggio MP3 Hybrid is identical to the conventional engine version it is based on: and offers the same safety features and rider enjoyment that make the Piaggio MP3 family such a hit.