Technical trends in mobility are described internationally with the acronym ACES, whose letters stand for Autonomous, Connected, Electrified and Smart(Mobility). These designations also describe the Piaggio Group’s research priorities, in the continuous study of technologically advanced solutions conducted in Research Centres around the world. Added to these is the fifth letter, Decarbonisation, which is reducing CO2 emissions from both product and process.

Mobility and Innovation

The Piaggio Group has been involved in mobility since its foundation in 1884, always with an innovative focus. As early as the beginning of the 20th century, Rinaldo Piaggio aimed to expand the company into the aeronautical sector, when this also symbolically represented the cutting edge of technology.

In over 110 years of activity, Piaggio has designed and built every means of transport: aircraft (single, twin and four-engine), seaplanes, engines for their own planes, trains, trucks, buses, trailers, cable cars, funiculars, speedboats, outboard motors, small cars; and, of course, perhaps the most innovative product in its history: the Vespa.

The Piaggio Group is therefore traditionally structured to respond to changes in the technical and social environment and ready for those in the near future. It pioneered both electric (1970s) and hybrid mobility (2009) and is ready for the challenges of the present and the future.

Now more than ever, mobility is strongly directed by regulations, for example through the limits on CO2 and other polluting gases (HC, NOx, etc.) that regulate the type approval of new models and limit the usage of vehicles already on the road (e.g. access to urban areas).

But at the same time there is also a constant change in customer preferences, as they are increasingly inclined towards the personal use of electric vehicles rather than those powered by combustion engines, and also more open to new solutions, such as sharing.

The Group sees the ability to combine industry-specific knowledge, robotics and software as key to improving future mobility systems in cities and, through its capabilities in the production of electric vehicles and the management of related infrastructure, intends to confirm its leadership in the revolution which is taking place.

Technical trends in mobility are described internationally with the acronym ACES, whose letters stand for Autonomous, Connected, Electrified and Smart(Mobility). These designations also describe the Piaggio Group’s research priorities, in the continuous study of technologically advanced solutions conducted in Research Centres around the world. Added to these is the fifth letter, Decarbonisation, which is reducing CO2 emissions from both product and process.

ACES for Two-Wheelers (PTWs)

ACES - Logo A

These are automated systems with sensors, computing power and analytical capabilities that can react according to the data they collect. In the field of two-wheelers, the use of these systems has to be fine-tuned in order to be effective due to their particularly dynamic behaviour. In addition to technical capabilities, this requires the vast experience that the Piaggio Group has acquired in over 75 years in the industry. Leveraging the expertise of its subsidiary Piaggio Fast Forward (PFF) in Boston1, which specialises in robotics, Piaggio has equipped some of its models2 with radar systems capable of automatically detecting objects (vehicles, pedestrians, infrastructures) and determining their distance and possibility of collision, providing a warning to the driver. It has also experimented with ‘By Wire’ systems for clutches and gearboxes, implementing particular designs on the flagships of his motorbike brands3.

It also has ‘By Wire’ braking systems in its portfolio, which at the moment are not seen as strategic given the high quality of the ABS in use.

Driving assistance software aimed at reducing emissions and fuel consumption has also been developed for both ICE4 and electric vehicles, while driving style analysis systems are being looked at with the aim of increasing dynamic safety by raising the driver’s awareness.

ACES - Logo C

The debut of Connectivity on a Piaggio vehicle came with the Beverly scooter in 2012, the first product to adopt the Mia system that allows a smartphone to be integrated into the vehicle’s electronic system. Since then, development has been rapid, involving Piaggio Fast Forward in the development of the dedicated app. It is in fact a bi-directional V2I connectivity, responding both to the customer’s needs (maps, weather, places of interest, display of more vehicle parameters, music, telephone, etc.) and for a data exchange with the parent company and for possible distress calls (iCall).

Added to this is the possibility, on some models, to have alerts for attempted theft, battery charging etc., up to and including fleet management. Obviously, the connectivity of vehicles, as well as of any device, requires a high level of focus on cybersecurity, for which a ‘cyber secure by design’ methodology must be adopted. Mia is also an open door for eCommerce, which will grow in importance and value in the coming years.

ACES - Logo E

Although in the ACES acronym Electrification is the third factor, in reality the effort to make Mobility sustainable is the most challenging. As 2030 approaches, Piaggio has decided to embark on a path based mainly on electric technology5 , pursuing its idea of Sustainable Mobility even more strongly.

“To achieve this goal, the large-scale adoption of electric vehicles, such as motorbikes, scooters and light commercial vehicles equipped with battery swap or plug-in technology, must be promoted, fostering a more sustainable battery life cycle management and greater environmental friendliness.”6 The strategy starts in Pontedera, where Piaggio set up its new eMobility department in 2021, dedicated to the development of two-, three- and four-wheeler vehicles and components for Electric Mobility.7
The Piaggio Electric Product Range is evolving rapidly, not only for the EMEA market but for the whole world. It already includes the Group’s flagship product, the Vespa Elettrica (moped and motorbike),with other versions dedicated to various markets set to be produced; in addition to this, the Piaggio 1 was also a great sales success in both the moped and the scooter versions.

Ape Elettrica, specifically designed for the Indian market, also enjoys commercial success and perfectly represents how an iconic and evergreen vehicle can be electrified.

The near future will see more models for other segments, all equipped with lithium-ion batteries (LIB) with BMS and remote control, with a focus on standardisation and end-of-life recovery. Prominent among these projects is the Porter Electric, the zero-emission version of the classic but very modern four-wheeler for transport. Other projects will arise from the agreement signed in 2022 between the Piaggio Group and the Chinese giant Foton Motor Group “for the development of a new range of fourwheel light commercial electric vehicles”8.

Moreover, Piaggio has never stopped researching hybrid propulsion, the system that combines the advantages of electric motors and ICEs to improve performance and fuel consumption. Building on the experience gained since 2009 with the Piaggio Mp3 Hybrid, the world’s first Parallel Hybrid scooter, the Group continues its research in the field of Mild Hybrids. In addition to the main  research strand of eMobility, Piaggio is also keeping a close eye on alternative energy vectors, such as Hydrogen with Fuel Cells (HEV), which has already been tested in the past9 and other renewable fuels, which could bring classic ICEs up to date in applications where they are difficult to replace.

ACES - Logo S

In this field, Piaggio remains committed to ensuring that its vehicles are ready to be part of the Intelligent Mobility Chain. This means being electric, connected, remotely manageable, easy to use, and equipped with exchangeable batteries: all qualities that Piaggio electric vehicles have and will have.

ACES - Logo D

As mentioned above, in addition to ACES, the other fundamental theme for research at Piaggio is the decarbonisation. This process that involves the entire production chain of the Group10 , but even limiting the observation to R&D alone, it translates into concrete actions: new design philosophy11, choice of materials and, in general, the rise of the culture of “circularity”. The Group’s medium-term objective is to be able to reduce the demand for raw materials, especially those that are scarce or have a polluting production cycle (e.g. energy-intensive, high CO2 emissions), helping:

Recycling: through the use of recyclable materials, the foundations are laid for a Product suitable for being part of the Circular Economy12.

Reuse: one example of possible (direct) reuse is batteries. Usually, lithium batteries have a longer life than the vehicle; therefore they can be reused, provided they can be easily separated and standardised13: Piaggio 1’s batteries are already designed with this in mind, as they are removable and will also be a standard for future Piaggio electric vehicles in the same range.

Saving: Another example of attention paid to the use of resources is the elimination of rare-earth elements from electric engines and other precious and poorly reusable materials from electronic components.

Alternative fuels: decarbonisation also and above all concerns Products14, and is the main driver for research in Sustainable Mobility. The Piaggio Group is pursuing the road to electrification with conviction, but believes that this alone cannot solve all problems. Other approaches to decarbonisation exist, and are needed: for example, the use of alternative, non-fossil fuels15 in internal combustion engines, alongside the direct electrification of vehicles.

The Piaggio Group’s attention is also focused on synthetic and biofuels, which will solve problems of autonomy and architecture, which are typical of electric engines in the motorcycle sector16.

The use of these fuels will make it possible to reuse a large part of existing ICE vehicles, making them Zero Emission Vehicles by changing the fuel and associated technology.

This is one of the reasons why the Piaggio Group is also continuing research into conventional engines, in order to make them increasingly efficient. The strong technical and economic effort being made to adapt production to the Euro5+ standard, which is stricter than the previous one, will also have a positive impact on the future use of synthetic and biofuels. Green hydrogen comes under this category and is used for electric vehicles with FC (HEV)17, as it is not cost-effective for internal combustion engines.

1The system dedicated to Piaggio Group motorbikes is developed, built and supplied by Piaggio Fast Forward in close cooperation with Piaggio R&D. The PFF modules use Vayyar’s Radaron-Chip (RoC) mmWave 4D imaging sensor that provides multiple ARAS functions, such as Blind Spot Detection (BSD), Lane Change Assist (LCA) and Forward Collision Warning (FCW), with a single sensor covering a range of about 100 meters, equipped with an extremely wide field of vision.
2Piaggio Mp3 530; Moto Guzzi V100 Mandello.
3Aprilia RSV4 and Tuono V4; Aprilia RS660 and Tuono 660; Moto Guzzi V100.
4ICE: Internal Combustion Engine.
5Statement by Roberto Colaninno, Chairman and CEO of the Piaggio Group, at the presentation of the Moto Guzzi V100 (September 2021, adnkronos).
6Statement by Michele Colaninno, Chief of Strategy and Product of the Piaggio Group (October 2021).
7Obviously, the success of Electric Mobility requires a step change in the development of infrastructure, primarily for charging vehicles.
8Press release of 29.11.22: The Chairman and CEO of Piaggio & C. S.p.A. (PIA.MI), Roberto Colaninno, and the Deputy General Manager of Foton Motor Group, Wang Shuhai, have signed a preliminary agreement in Mantova to develop a new range of four-wheeler light commercial electric vehicles. The agreement consolidates the partnership between the two Groups that began in September 2017 for the joint development of innovative solutions for the light commercial vehicles market.
9Piaggio has built a prototype Maxi Scooter HEV (Hydrogen Electric Vehicle), i.e. powered by hydrogen gas converted into electricity via Fuel Cell.
10The Piaggio Group to adhere to REACH and ELV - N1.
11Example: Design aimed at reducing the number of parts in a vehicle. The elimination of a body part, through its integration with an adjacent one, generates a cascade of benefits: reduction of moulds to be made and consequently savings in materials and energy throughout their production process; elimination of material waste; reduction of moulding energy; reduction in the number of packages; reduction of energy required for transport; reduction of time and energy for assembly of the finished product; streamlining of warehouse management and spare parts management. All this without having changed the content of the Product, but only having addressed the design.
12ELV survey conducted on Mp3 being updated with Vespa GTS (UniFi), by January.
13Piaggio Group, HONDA Motor Co., Ltd., KTM F&E GmbH, and YAMAHA Motor Co, Ltd. established the Swappable Batteries Motorcycle Consortium (SBMC), in order to promote the widespread use of light electric vehicles such as motorised mopeds, scooters, motorbikes, tricycles and quadricycles, and to encourage more sustainable management of the life cycle of batteries, in keeping with international climate policies.
14It is important to remember that the two-wheeler sector accounts for 1.3% of CO2 emissions in transport, which in turn accounts for 20% of global emissions; so the two-wheeler sector accounts for less than 1% of the total (source: European Environment Agency 2022); this cannot limit our Group’s commitment, but it is necessary to put the problem into perspective.
15Synthetic and biological fuels, as well as electricity, must be produced from and with renewable energy to truly have no carbon footprint.
16Aside from city or intercity scooters, there is an important market segment of two-wheelers, whose physical and functional characteristics do not allow for their electrification; these products could be safeguarded, on the same level as decarbonisation, through the use of synthetic and biofuels.
17HEV stands for Hydrogen Electric Vehicle, while BEV stands for Battery Electric Vehicle; FC stands for Fuel Cells. Hydrogen stored in a cylinder plus a FC that converts it into electrical energy is the equivalent of a charged battery.

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