Piaggio's MP3 was the world's first hybrid three-wheeler and at EICMA this week, it showed what is likely to be the first two-wheeled hybrid – the Piaggio USB (urban sport bike). The combination of a highly efficient, low-emmission GDI (gasoline direct injection) two-stroke motor and an electric motor, the USB is much smaller than it looks in the images and weighs in at just 130 kg. The USB runs 50km (30 miles) on electric only, and returns 1.5 l/100 km (156 U.S. mpg and 188 imperial mpg).
Quite remarkably, the performance of the USB is awesome using both to develop a claimed combined torque figure of 200 Nm which means the plug-in USB blitzes to its top speed of 100 kmh far faster than your average performance car.
For the electric propulsion only, the 2.5 Kw/h lithium-polymer batteries offer a 50 Km endurance at a cruising speed of 60 kmh and the USB will be reconfigurable as a single-seater, twin-seat, or with top-box. Piaggio's Vespa popularised the scooter in the fifties and its three-wheeled architecture is revolutionary too - this looks to be a particularly viable concept and we think it'll see production.
Once again, Piaggio has chosen a confusing, and now we must assume deliberately misleading, name - last time it named its revolutionary hybrid three-wheel scooter the MP3 (coincidentally the abbreviation for the popular digital music format) and this time it's the USB, another computer term in extremely common daily parlance. It looks like stupidity from here, particularly when both products are world-leading - can anybody think of a good reason to deliberately confuse a product's name with popular terms?