Vespa Piaggio MP3
My car of the day in Paris was the Vespa Piaggio MP3. It is one of the most popular scooters in Paris. You will notice it has three wheels - not some big tripod setup - the two front wheels are just about one foot apart. It gives the scooter unbelievable stability for turns and stopping. As you can see above - this guy in his business suit is stopped at a red light. He does not even have to put his feet on the ground.
Because gasoline is so expensive - $9 a gallon - and parking is nearly impossible - scooters are very attractive here. Scooters take so little room that 8 of them can sit in one parking space.
When we visited Italy - we got to see Vespa making the MP3. Yes it is the same name as a computer music program. They are being made on Pontedera - a small town in Pisa.
Vespa makes a full line of MP3's - 125cc - 250cc - 300cc - 400cc - and 500cc. They also make a hybrid version. With the hybrid - you have a 3-way switch on the dashboard - electric only - gasoline only - both at once. With the third choice you actually have two engines turning the same driveshaft at once - the electric one providing an amazing boost of torque. The price of the MP3 goes from $5000 to $10,000 - the most expensive being the hybrid. The hybrid feature alone adds $3000 to the price - and let's face it - how much gasoline can you really save - certainly not $3000 worth in 10 years.
The MP3 is imported into the USA - but they are relatively rare to see on the highway. The added stability of a third wheel appeals to a senior citizen cyclist.