Vespa Elettrica (2021) - Review

 

Electric scooter and motorcycle sales are rocketing in the UK. They doubled in 2018, then did the same trick in 2019. Even in 2020 Covid year, electric two-wheelers were up by 50%. They're still a tiny compared to the petrol market (2.5% of the 2020 total), but as city restrictions on petrol vehicles gather pace, for battery power the only way is upwards.

Vespa can't afford to miss such a fast-growing market and launched the Elettrica in 2018. It looks like a traditional scooter but instead of the familiar 50cc or 125cc petrol motor there's a 4.2kWh lithium-ion battery and an electric motor. First out as a moped, it was joined by a faster 42mph (it's all relative) version in 2019, but it's the moped we test here. Interestingly, the 70KMH job outsells the moped by 60% to 40%, which is hardly surprising as it costs only £300 more and has far more useable performance.

The Elettrica has not been a big seller for Vespa in Britain (less than a hundred up to early 2021), but Piaggio likes to point out that it's a profile-raising flag in the ground. Their next electric – the Piaggio One, due to arrive in July 2021 – will have a more competitive price.

 

For and against
  • Quiet, easy to ride
  • Decent range
  • Very smart
  • Expensive
  • Some dash read outs too small
  • Battery doesn't lift out

 

2021 Vespa Elettrica Price

The Elettrica is expensive, there are no two ways about it. The moped version comes in at £6300 and the fast one at £6600. Fortunately, both are eligible for the Plug-In Grant, which knocks that back to £5040 and £5280 respectively. That's still an eye watering price for a moped, especially since Lexmoto weighed in with an e-moped at less than £2000 on the road. Still, as with all electrics the Elettrica should be dirt cheap to run. If you can't make the upfront price, a typical dealer finance deal would bag you a new Elettrica for a £100 deposit and just over £100 a month over 60 months at 6.9%APR.

 

Power and torque

Electric motor power and torque figures are weird, at least by the standards of petrol engines. The Elettrica's motor offers 4kW, or 5.2bhp, which is actually pretty generous for a moped. But being electric, it has a prodigious torque output of 200Nm almost from the word go. The performance isn't as fearsome as this might suggest, but the Elettrica is still pretty smart off the mark by moped standards, whipping up to an indicated 29-30mph without any of the tailing off in the high 20s which some 50cc scooters suffer from. It'll also hold 29mph up long hills, again unlike some more feeble rivals, but this is still a moped – if your commute includes busy roads, get an A1 licence, and buy the 70KMH version.

There is an Eco mode which limits top speed to 20mph and offers the same acceleration as 'Power' but it's hard to see the point of this unless you get caught out with a low battery or really like pootling. Far more useful is the 'Reverse' function, selected by a button on the righthand switch gear, which creeps the Elettrica backwards at a slow walking pace – very handy if you get caught in an awkward parking spot.

 

 

2021 Vespa Elettrica Battery and Charging

The Elettrica battery is quite beefy by moped standards, at 4.2kWh, and the good news is that it doesn't take up valuable underseat space, being hidden away elsewhere. What you can't do is lift it out and take it indoors for recharging, which is a tad inconvenient if you live in flat or don't have any off-road parking. At least the charging lead integral, coiling away under the seat, and as with all electric scooters it connects to any three-pin domestic socket, which means charging is possible almost anywhere, but slow. Piaggio claims a charge time of 4 hours.

 

2021 Vespa Elettrica Range

One in five new mopeds are electric because battery power suits these small scooters very well – they're mostly used for trips of less than 10 miles, so range isn't a big issue. Piaggio claims 62 miles, which would seem to be born out in practice. After 10 miles, the test bike had used 18% battery, so a safe range of at least 40 miles looks likely, which is more than enough for a typical moped. The battery % gauge clicks down nice and steady, but it's far too small to read at a glance.

The range should get a boost from what Piaggio likes to call KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery System) which has a Formula 1 cachet but is really just the same regenerative braking which many electric two-wheelers have. Roll off the twistgrip, and the motor turns into a generator, putting power back into the battery and giving a bit of what feels like engine braking. It's not enough for perpetual motion, but every little helps, and the Elettrica offers two different levels, depending on how hard you want to try and maximise range.

 

 

Handling, suspension, chassis and weight

Chassis-wise, this is a thoroughly conventional small scooter with a steel frame hiding under the bodywork, non-adjustable front forks and a single rear shock which can be tweaked for pre-load. The 12-inch wheels and short wheelbase make it as skittish as any other smaller scoot though the Michelin tyres cling on well. The Elettrica's limited performance is unlikely to tax the suspension either, and it all seems to keep in control pretty well though I didn't have time to try it two-up. Finally, if you're worried about the weight of batteries, don't be. The Elettrica comes in at 135kg, just 20 kilos more than the 50cc Primavera.

 

2021 Vespa Elettrica Brakes

Remember drum brakes? The Elettrica has one, complete with mechanical control, and not an ABS or CBS in sight. It actually works pretty well in concert with the front 240mm disc, both being progressive and able to cope with a 135kg scooter which tops out at 30mph.

 

 

Comfort

If you find some of the modern small scooters a bit cramped, then try a Vespa. The traditional architecture makes them roomier than some, with an almost flat floor meaning you can move your feet around. Your top half is a bit exposed to the elements but your friendly Vespa dealer (and lots of others as well) will be delighted to sell you a screen. Passengers get a reasonable portion of seat, good big grab rail and fold-out pegs, but depending on avoirdupois they could be a threat to performance.

 

Rider aids and extra equipment/accessories

Apart from the reverse gear trick, the Elettrica doesn't have much in the way of rider aids, though like many modern scooters it will connect to your smartphone via Bluetooth for access to music and calls. Call me a grumpy middle-aged bike tester if you like, but I've to be convinced that phone calls and powered vehicle are a good mix, however clever the tech. The dash screen certainly is clever. As well as the speedo and battery gauge, there are two read outs to show how hard you're riding, measured in green or blue blobs – a bigger battery level would be a lot more useful than either of those. And you can scroll through things like max and average speed, power consumption in watt/hours per mile, odometer, and trip. Again, they'd be more useful if big enough to read on the move.

Unlike some electric scooters, which fill the underseat space with battery, this one still has space for an open face helmet, so big fat tick to Piaggio for that. If you need more, it's time to buy a topbox.

 

Vespa Elettrica 2021 Review Price Spec_06

 

2021 Vespa Elettrica Verdict

Let's get one thing out the way first – the Elettrica is very expensive for an electric moped, and you can buy something which will do the same job for less than half the price. On the other hand, it's sophisticated and user-friendly little beast which like all electrics will be very cheap to run. Still, to justify it, you'll need to really appreciate the Vespa badge.

 

2021 Vespa Elettrica Tech Spec

New price

£6,300.00

Continuous power

3.5kW

Peak power

4kW

Torque (at the wheel)

200Nm

Battery voltage/Ah

48V/86Ah

Battery capacity

4.2kWh

Battery make

LG Chem

Battery life

1000 cycles (80% residual capacity)

Charge time

4 hours

Range (claimed)

Up to 62 miles

Regen braking

Yes

Max speed

45km/h

Front brake

200mm disc

Rear brake

140mm drum

Front tyre

110/70-12

Rear tyre

120/70-12

Front suspension

 

Telescopic forks, non-adj.

Rear suspension

Single shock, pre-load adj.

Dimensions (LxWxH)

1870mm x 735mm x 1150mm

Wheelbase

1350mm

Seat height

790mm

Weight

130kg

Warranty

Two years

Website

Www.vespa.com

 

Looking for scooter or moped insurance? Get a quote for this machine with Bennetts moped and scooter insurance

 

Vespa Elettrica 2021 Review Price Spec_05

 

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MCIA Secured gives bike buyers the chance to see just how much work a manufacturer has put into making their new investment as resistant to theft as possible.

As we all know, the more security you use, the less chance there is of your bike being stolen. In fact, based on research by Bennetts, using a disc lock makes your machine three times less likely to be stolen, while heavy duty kit can make it less likely to be stolen than a car. For reviews of the best security products, click here.

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The higher the star rating, the better the security, so always ask your dealer what rating your bike has, and compare it to other machines on your shortlist.

 

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