The main objective of the Piaggio Group is to meet the most progressive needs for mobility, through a deep understanding of people and their habits, reducing the environmental impact and fuel consumption of its vehicles, ensuring customers excellent levels of performance.
The main guidelines for the Group's research are therefore:
- improving internal combustion engines; reducing consumption and emissions, increasing performance;
- evolved hybrid, electric engines; alternative, non-fossil fuels;
- improving vehicles, new vehicle concepts for a more sustainable and safe mobility;
- devices for safety (active passive and preventive safety) and comfort; this sector includes connectivity, as regards both preventive safety and comfort;
- the environmental compatibility of the product and process (Life Cycle Management).
Continual improvement of combustion engines
Engine research focuses on five fundamental fields:
- optimisation of engine thermal fluid dynamics, with particular reference to the combustion process;
- optimisation of electronic engine and transmission management;
- reduction of organic leaks (friction, pumping);
- improvement in transmission system performance (step or continuously variable transmission);
- study of acoustics and engine timbre to have noise emissions that are lower and not unpleasant.
The aim is to reduce consumption and emissions and improve performance, also meaning handling and ease of use.
The following results were achieved in 2019:
- The 300 hpe Engine
After making its début on the Vespa GTS 300, the new 4-stroke, 4-valve, liquid cooled, electronic injection single cylinder engine was adopted for other models, including the Beverly and Mp3. Called the 300 hpe, it has benefited from numerous actions to obtain a better performance and reduced consumption. The maximum power reached is 17.5 kW (23.8 CV) at 8250 revs, a 12% increase compared to the previous 300 cc version. The maximum torque, equal to 26 Nm at 5250 revs, has increased by 18% with a reduced consumption. Lastly, the electronic engine control unit has already been prepared for the future Euro 5 standard.
- The new 350 engine
Numerous models, including the Beverly range, are available with the re-engineered 4-stroke, 4 valve, liquid cooled, electronic injection, single cylinder 350 engine, featuring Piaggio Group state-of-the-art technology in scooter engines.
An engine designed to deliver a performance comparable to 400 cc engines, while having the compact dimensions and reduced weight of a 300 cc engine. Featuring an automatic multi-disk oil bath clutch, the scooter boasts an xcellent performance and very low fuel consumption: 30.2 hp at 8,250 revs maximum power and 29 Nm at 6,250 revs maximum torque.
- The new Moto Guzzi V85 engine
After its unveiling at EICMA 2018, the new Moto Guzzi V85 TT went on sale, with a fully re-engineered engine. The construction is based on the classic 90° transverse V-twin structure, in the air-cooled 850 cc version, but the engine itself been fully redesigned. It has a maximum power output of 80 HP with a powerful torque at low revs and is designed to serve as the new base engine for important developments in Moto Guzzi models in the coming years.
- The new RSV4 1100 engine
An increase in displacement has been achieved thanks to the dimensions of 81 x 52.3, with a 13.6:1 compression ratio. The maximum power of 217 hp at 13,200 revs/minute delivers an outstanding performance for its category;
the maximum torque has been increased by 10% over the entire range, compared to 1000 cc and can reach 122 Nm at 11,000 revs/minute. The exhaust system features the ultra-light Akrapovic muffler in titanium, fitted as standard.
Lastly, the Aprilia RSV4 1100 Factory has a specific calibration for APRC electronic controls.
- The new 660 twin cylinder engine
This new engine, on the RS 660 model presented at EICMA 2019, is a highly compact, Euro 5, 660 cc parallel twin cylinder model. Its concept originates from the front bearings of the 1100 cc V4. This configuration has been chosen for its compact size and thermodynamic efficiency; the reduced dimensions afford a lean, light riding style. The maximum power of 100 CV offers an exhilarating riding experience enhanced by the weight/power ratio - one of the best in its class, and the high torque value. The exhaust system has a single muffler with asymmetrical twin outlet below the engine, which helps centralise weight and ensure an even better handling. Engine response is guaranteed by electronic control derived from Aprilia V4 models, based on multi-mapping Ride-by-Wire (introduced by Aprilia for the first time in 2007).
Evolved engines: plug-in and electric hybrids
Piaggio has been at the forefront of advanced ICE (Internal Combustion Engines) since 2009, with its MP3 Hybrid. The wealth of knowledge developed with the Hybrid Project has enabled it to develop the Liberty eMail, which went on sale in 2011. Its continued research has resulted in the electric powertrain fitted on the new Vespa Primavera Elettrica and the Vespa Primavera X (Range Extender).
- Vespa Elettrica 70 km/h7
During 2019, development continued with the unveiling in autumn of the Vespa Primavera Elettrica "motorcycle" category, i.e. with an increased performance above the "moped" category limit. This development has made it possible to expand the base of customers looking for an environmentally friendly vehicle with a performance that is suitable for urban transit.
- Micro Hybrid Engines
Another research and development area covers Start&Stop systems, which are a Micro Hybrid Engine for scooters.
New concepts (Tilting vehicles)
The reference point is the Piaggio MP3 tilting three-wheeler created in 2006, which has enabled Piaggio to become a leader in the field of Dynamic Safety8. These new formulas, with the addition of other safety devices, can achieve safety levels close to car manufacturing standards, whilst retaining all the benefits of two-wheeler vehicles in terms of size, emissions and consumption. The multi-wheel concept, depending on markets and formulas adopted, can offer huge advances in regulatory terms. Piaggio is continuing studies in this area, so it is ready to lever the developments of a market it has created out of nothing. As part of its research, Piaggio has designed and built a prototype of an electric, twin engine, category L2e titling four-wheeler vehicle (Resolve), while in 2019 it put a new three-wheeler model on the market:
- the Piaggio MP3 300 hpe
This new version is leaner and lighter than the Piaggio MP3: a compact, sporty, dynamic, comfortable model, featuring a content typical of GT scooters. The two wheel front suspension system (with articulated quadrilateral) was further developed and affords a greater stability on bends, shorter braking distances and excellent road holding in all conditions of poor adherence. The compact size and handling of the Piaggio MP3 300 hpe are ideal for manoeuvres from a stationery position. Plus the new Piaggio 300 hpe engine has a greater power and torque at the high-end of the category.
- Reduction in absorption and weight9
During the design stage considerable attention was paid to reducing absorption and weight, as it is fundamentally important to decrease consumption and improve performance. The reduction in absorption is achieve by using aerodynamic simulation and validating results based on comparative analysis with experimental data obtained from wind tunnel testing.
Devices for Safety and Comfort
The electronic control sector has expanded considerably in recent years:
- ABS for light, medium, tilting scooters and motorcycles;
- traction control (both with and without the Ride by Wire system), combined with ABS;
- semi-active electronic suspensions (ADD - Aprilia Dynamic Damping);
- ride by wire adopted for most Group vehicles;
- CAN handlebar controls (digital protocol);
- cruise control (based on Ride by Wire) available on the Aprilia and Moto Guzzi models;
- APRC system (Aprilia Performance Ride Control) on the RSV4 and Tuono 1100 including:
- ATC: Aprilia Traction Control
- AWC: Aprilia Wheelie Control
- ALC: Aprilia Launch Control
- AQS: Aprilia Quick Shift
- APL: Aprilia Pit Limiter
- ACC: Aprilia Cruise Control
- Multi-map ABS Cornering (RSV4 RR and RF, Tuono 1100 RR and Factory) with RLM (Rear Liftup Mitigation);
- development of LED lighting for the headlamp and tail-lights;
- new panel instruments (Human Machine Interface) which are clearer and feature more information without distractions;
- dissemination and expansion of the Piaggio Multimedia Platform connectivity system, based on linking the smartphone and the vehicle via Bluetooth®, iOS and Android.
Electronic suspensions and electronic steering shock absorber
The new Aprilia Tuono V4 1100 Factory features Smart EC 2.0 semi-active suspensions, developed by Öhlins for the Piaggio Group, as standard. This ensures highly versatile suspensions, which can adapt in terms of efficiency and safety to the various uses of the Tuono model (Touring, Sport or Track).
The system offers two ways to calibrate the fork and damper: semi-active and manual mode, using the handlebar buttons. In semi-active mode, the suspensions are controlled by the Smart EC 2.0 system, which activates operation based on an algorithm that processes vehicle data sent to the control unit in real time.
Accordingly, the suspensions of the Aprilia Tuono V4 1100 Factory adjust their hydraulic calibration, instant by instant, to the type of route and riding style. In manual mode, the 3 “Riding Modes” (Track, Sport and Road) offer 3 pre-defined types of calibration, without semi-active assistance. In both semi-active and manual mode, the user can highly customise suspension calibration. The Öhlins steering damper now has electronic control via the Smart EC 2.0 system and is fully customisable, to optimally adjust calibration based on fork and damper calibration.
The OBTi (Objective Based Tuning Interface), displayed on the instrument panel offers user-friendly tuning. The system allows for customised calibration of the suspensions in any situation, such as acceleration and braking.
MIA multimedia platform: always connected with your smartphone
The MIA multimedia platform, available in various versions for the Group's brands, lets users connect their smartphone to their vehicle, and connect their vehicle to the web - for a truly multi-functional product. The platform becomes a superb onboard computer that can simultaneously display the speedometer, rev counter, as well as power and engine torque delivered instantaneously, longitudinal acceleration, thanks to the bend angle, plus instantaneous and average fuel consumption, average speed, battery status, and much, much more. From the smartphone connected to the MIA, riders can display maps and routes and locate fuelling stations and service centres. The tyre condition control function (TPMC) uses information from the vehicle and smartphone sensors to monitor tyre wear and inflation, immediately alerting the user to any potentially critical situations; general analysis lets the user check vehicle conditions. The cutting-edge version developed for the Aprilia RSV4 and Tuono, transforms the smartphone into a semi-professional system for track use. With this version, there is active communication between the vehicle and the smartphone: the rider can change the settings of their RSV4 and Tuono V4 through the smartphone.
- Active Electronic Setup: Using the GPS feature of your smartphone, the system recognises the position of the bike at any given time on the track and automatically changes the electronic adjustments (traction control and anti-wheelie), based on the settings the rider has selected, corner by corner. This allows you to increase safety and effectiveness on the track, adjusting the control parameters at every point on the circuit and without distractions.
- Adaptive Race Assistant: This feature provides tips in real time to safely make the most of your RSV4. The application compares rider performance to the best lap on the track in real time and assists by immediately indicating how to gradually improve performance.
- Advanced Telemetry Dashboard: This allows you to use your smartphone display to see, in addition to all the information normally on the standard instrument cluster, numerous other parameters acquired from the bike telemetry such as: instant power sent to the driveshaft; instant torque sent to the driveshaft; percentage of available power; drive to the rear wheel; rear wheel slippage; longitudinal and lateral acceleration (G-G diagram); lean angle, etc. The package also includes a module which enables vehicle operation to be analysed directly on smartphones, and another module for the automatic acquisition of lap times and improvement of driving style (in performance terms) for semi-professional use on the track.
- Navigation: In the latest versions of the multimedia platform, for the Vespa GTS Supertech, Shiver 900 and Moto Guzzi V85, a complete sat nav system is featured. Through a specific section, users can browse and select their destination and then all relative information will be transferred via Bluetooth to the vehicle control unit and displayed on the TFT instrument panel as pictograms. Navigation information includes indications about current and next manoeuvres, road names, time and distance from arrival, speed limits and traffic control system reports. With active navigation, the instrument panel automatically configures in specific display mode, showing route instructions and critical information such as the speed and vehicle diagnostic alerts. Navigation start and stop operations are managed directly from the handlebar controls, with no smartphone interaction necessary while riding, guaranteeing the utmost ease of use and safety. The app-based navigation system ensures up-to-date maps and real time traffic and weather updates, using smartphone connectivity with clear benefits for the customer in terms of function and costs. The flexibility of the architecture also means new functions are constantly released and the system has been configured to:
- automatically search for electric charging stations and optimise routes based on available autonomy;
- display route weather alerts on the instrument panel;
- provide an "electronic horizon" system, for excess speed alerts based on road bends and road surface conditions;
- provide alerts on general hazard conditions along the route.
On all vehicles with TFT, the MIA platform operates basic telephone functions, via rapid, user-friendly controls on the handlebars
- voice command activation;
- call management (accept / reject incoming calls, display caller's name);
- call back last name;
- music management (playlist selection, volume control, track change);
- passenger/rider interphone with two Bluetooth headsets as standard.
A streamlined version of the telephone management system was adopted for the first time for the 2019 version of the Piaggio Medley featuring the new LCD instrument panel10: although the user interface has been designed with icons and a single handlebar button, most of the functions still feature, enabling the platform to be extended to models at the lower end of the range.
Three/four wheeler sector
Piaggio's product strategy addresses the transport of people and goods over medium and short distances, and focuses on the handling, compact size and safety of vehicles, as well as environmental issues.
This challenge in Europe, India and increasingly on export markets (America and Africa), is tackled through the following actions:
- the study, production and sale of low consumption engines with reduced pollutant emissions;
- the increasingly widespread use of alternative fuels for the entire product range;
- the development and sale of electric vehicles;
- high transportation efficiency (ratio between transportable weight and total weight on ground).
Current Indian legislation provides for the introduction of BSVI emission limits from April 2020 for three- and four-wheelers on the domestic market, and consequently the production and sale of currently manufactured BSIV configuration vehicles will discontinue.
A common goal for the entire Piaggio range manufactured in India is to reduce consumption and the TCO (Total Cost of Ownership), through measures to continually improve vehicle efficiency, also based on innovative technology for this type of product (petrol, LPG and natural gas engines with electronic injection, diesel engines with electronic control and vehicles with electric drive).
Developments on the Indian three-wheeler market have confirmed the growth trend in recent years for vehicles with alternative fuel engines (LPG, CNG) especially in urban and semi-urban areas. To meet the challenges of this increasing trend, Piaggio:
- put a new version of the Ape City into production, in late 2018/early 2019, featuring a new passenger body and engine architecture, designed to improve comfort, maintainability and integration with its urban mission;
- has been marketing the City range Ape City BSIV for passenger transport on the Indian Market since January 2019. The innovative LPG/CNG electronic injection technology (that will be adopted on all BSVI vehicles) chosen for the model has made it possible to reduce consumption and pollutant emissions, while also improving performance and reliability (the system also gives the rider optimal information to minimise consumption, thanks to the gear change alert system, and information on correct vehicle functioning);
- started production of the Ape City with BSVI engines in September 2019;
- launched the Ape e-City version with Full Electric engine on the Indian market in December 2019. This important technical innovation on the model has been developed to meet a growing need for eco-friendly vehicles;
- will introduce the Ape e-City+ and Ape e-Cargo versions, to flank the e-City model, from mid-2020 onwards, guaranteeing the availability of a full range of electric vehicles for passenger and goods transport, with the further aim of expanding sales on European and export markets; – will start production of a new engine with a new 300 cc powertrain, from mid-2020 onwards, designed, developed and produced in-company, with a strong focus on an optimised use of alternative fuels such as LPG and natural gas. This can achieve a significant improvement as regards TCO and performance compared to the current BSVI version.
As for export markets, the continual improvement in the product and expansion of the range have enabled Piaggio to start selling on major new export markets in 2019 (the most important being Colombia), and to consolidate its presence even further, in terms of its share on markets where it already operates.
In Europe, the Piaggio three-wheeler range was expanded, with the new Classic Van Euro 4 featuring a cargo box designed to meet specific mission/market needs, going on sale. The Classic Van Euro 4 has been conceived for the short-range urban transport of goods (reduced consumption with a specific high capacity), and for street shop/street food solutions.
As regards the Indian 4-wheeler range, Piaggio increased the number of available versions in 2019, launching the new Porter 1000 LH drive model, to allow for exports of this vehicle on previously inaccessible markets.
On the European 4-wheeler market, production of the new Porter Euro 6d started in July 2019, for the entire Porter and Maxxi range with petrol powertrain and alternative fuels (GPL and natural gas), for further improvements in terms of emission (compliance with the WLTP standard) and performance, boosting customer satisfaction even more.
With the aim of renewing the entire Porter and Maxxi 4-wheeler range for the European market, Piaggio signed an important deal with China's biggest manufacturer of commercial vehicles, Foton, for the development of a new 4-wheeler commercial vehicle for goods transport. Besides a considerable increase in specific capacity, comfort and performance, the new vehicle will be developed to meet increasingly stringent type approval standards (crash tests, active and passive protection systems, assisted riding systems…). The new vehicle will feature a 1,500 cc petrol, petrol/LPG or petrol/CNG engine on single wheel, twin wheel, as well as single cab and double cab versions. Production start up has been scheduled for September 2020 for the single wheel petrol version, followed by the other versions. The Full Electric version is also being defined, to meet the ever growing need for vehicles with a low environmental impact.
The range of commercial vehicles offered by Piaggio for the European market focuses on "intracity” mobility, with special attention on limiting fuel consumption and pollutant emission levels; these are fundamental elements for a sustainable transport system, especially in the "last mile" handling and delivery process, which has a direct impact on the quality of life in metropolitan areas and historical centres. Piaggio has directed its efforts for years to equip its vehicles with alternative fuel engines such as LPG, natural gas and electricity. The availability of these engines has contributed to increasing the number of circulating vehicles that use cleaner fuels (LPG and CNG) and to the spread of zero-emission electric vehicles. In 1995, Piaggio started selling the Porter with electric engine. Full Electric technology at Piaggio has grown since then, and been consolidated and improved. This technology continues to prove its validity, being not only accessible, reliable and simple, but also ensuring excellent performance both in terms of output power (11 kW@96V) and torque (55 Nm at 1,800 rpm).
In addition to the reduction in emissions, the introduction of environmentally-friendly engines enables Piaggio commercial vehicles to guarantee low environmental impact for goods transport missions in city centres (historical city centres in particular), thanks to their compact dimensions and high transportation efficiency (ratio between transportable weight and total weight on the ground).
"Life Cycle Management" in two-wheelers
Although no legislation on recyclability for two-wheelers is currently in force or is planned, the Piaggio Group has taken steps in this direction. The technologies and materials used for the design and construction of the Group's scooters and motorcycles have targeted environmental compatibility and their effective end-of-life disposal since the introduction of the Sfera 50 model (1989). As from 2008, Piaggio has also changed the title blocks of drawings and information in its bills of materials so that materials used in constructing vehicles can be checked and disassembly can be optimised for easier disposal. Through a partnership with UniFi, the characteristics of recyclability of the MP3 125 Hybrid in accordance with ISO 22628 were analysed. This was achieved by taking apart a real vehicle and registering all of its components. The recyclability rate was 88%, far higher than the limit of 85% set for the automotive industry for category N1 and M1 vehicles.
"Life Cycle Management" in four-wheelers
In the four-wheel sector, the regulatory panorama is similar to that of cars. With the introduction of the European Regulation REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemical Substances) in 2007, automotive manufacturers are required to follow AIG (Automotive Industries Guidelines) which include monitoring the use of hazardous/prohibited substances, and checking the recyclability and recoverability rates of materials used. In this regard, Piaggio has adopted a challenging process over the years to guarantee high recyclability levels of its vehicles, achieving important results such as the limited use of materials considered hazardous (lead, chromium, mercury and cadmium) and an end-of-life vehicle disposal manual. Piaggio constantly monitors the recyclability and recoverability rates of its vehicles, retaining at all times indicators above 85% and 95% respectively, higher than the limits set out in Directive 2000/53/EC. The Porter MAXXI Multitech Euro 6 pick-up, for example, has a 91.5% recyclability rate and a 96.1% recoverability rate. Piaggio's passion for the environment is also channelled into its commitment to guaranteeing the environmental compatibility of its commercial vehicles, from the design stage until the end of their working life. The survey also paved the way for a database, which updates in real time vehicle material compositions and their recyclability and recoverability rates, from the design stage onwards. The recyclability and recovery values for the Porter model, with Euro 6 petrol, GPL and electric engines are given below.
Use of recycled plastics
On all Piaggio Group vehicles, mass-pigmented polypropylene components (floorboard, leg shield back plate, air cleaner, etc.) can be made of recycled materials, at the discretion of the supplier.
Industrial patent rights
Piaggio’s dedication to intensive research and development is reflected in the continual increase in patent applications in countries where the Group operates. Piaggio has more than two thousand patents worldwide. Many of these concern the tilting three-wheel sector, an area in which the Piaggio Group has always been a pioneer, and in which it intends maintaining its position as industry leader.
In 2019, the number of new patented solutions remained high, confirming the Group’s strong focus on intellectual property. Piaggio is one of the leading Italian companies for its number of patented solutions.
Partnerships with universities and research centres
The Piaggio Group is convinced of the importance of exchanging knowledge and ideas, and of the resulting encouragement that can lead to improvements in technologies, methodologies and products. For this reason the Piaggio Group has always been engaged on many fronts to consolidate the synergy between the world of research and its industrial sector. The Group has continual exchange and research initiatives with universities and research centres. The objective of these partnerships has been to support continuing innovation over the last few years through:
- partnerships in research and development projects;
- participation in European and national projects;
- experimental research dissertations.
Technological antennas (Group Research Centres)
In addition to its external partnerships, the Group has three high-calibre technological flagships: the Piaggio Advanced Design Center in Pasadena (USA), the multiple world champion Aprilia Racing team, engaged in the global challenge represented by the MotoGP, and the Piaggio Fast Forward advanced research centre in Boston.
The Piaggio Advanced Design Center (PADC) aims to shed light on changes in society, lifestyles and urban and metropolitan mobility formulas, developing an international system of skills and research in the sectors of style and product marketing that can generate stimuli and results that can then be developed within a technological environment.
Aprilia Racing, one of the most successful and prestigious teams in the world, which has also been involved in MotoGP since 2015, has a relationship with the Innovation unit at the Group Product Development Department which is based on a process of ongoing technical collaboration, engaging in a continuous exchange of ideas and skills.
Piaggio Fast Forward (PFF) is a pioneer in the intelligent movement of people and goods using technologies of an ideal size: larger than aerial drones but smaller than cars and trucks. The company’s mission is to help people move better, further, faster and more enjoyably. PFF creates robots that follow, move alongside or transport people in motion. In the era of artificial intelligence, autonomous machines and interconnected networks, PFF promotes more vibrant cities, getting people and objects from A to B more effectively by exploiting the potential of intelligent vehicles. The motto of PFF is “autonomy for man”, i.e. placing autonomy at the service of humans, as well as promoting greater freedom, pleasure and efficiency in movement.
This is what Piaggio Fast Forward calls “moVibilità” (“MoVability”). PFF designs vehicles like Gita and Kilo to improve and expand human capabilities both at work and during leisure time.
The first Piaggio Fast Forward product is the Gita, with sales starting in California in November. Kilo is the “big brother” of Gita; thanks to its larger payload, it is able to carry up to 100 kg in weight in its 120-litre load area. It is incredibly stable thanks to the 3-wheel support. Gita and Kilo are simultaneously practical and fun, functional and beautiful. They are the first in a portfolio of technologies currently under development.