Italian Designer Reinvents the Classic Vespa for the Electric Age

©. Guilio Iacchetti via Designboom

So what if it doesn't have pedals and isn't as practical as an e-bike, it's so elegant and minimal.

The Vespa has been a design classic ever since Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn co-starred with it in Roman Holiday. Designed by aeronautical engineer Corradino D’Ascanio for Piaggio, it was designed to be a vehicle that solved all the problems of motorcycles of the day. It was revolutionary; The History Blog writes:

His innovations included a gear shift on the handlebars to make driving easier, tires that could be replaced by anyone without need of a mechanic, a body design that protected riders from mud, dust, water and assorted street debris, an enclosed engine that saved street clothes from the scourge of grease stains, and a driving position that allowed riders to be comfortably seated even for long journeys.
Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck on a Vespa

Roman Holiday/Video screen capture

After the movie, everyone wanted one. "The indelible images of Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck zooming through Rome on that Numero 3 certainly played a large part in making the Vespa a worldwide icon."

vespa in filed

© Guilio Iacchetti via Designboom

It was also really stinky and polluting with its noisy 98cc two stroke engine. Now Designboom shows the work of Guilio Iaccetti, who updates the classic for the electric age. It harkens back to the light and agile original Vespa 98; "contrary to the latest generations, which have gotten ‘heavier’ over the years, everything deemed superfluous has been eliminated in the vespampère’s design."

red detail vespa

© Guilio Iacchetti via Designboom

Everything is smoother and simpler; from Designboom:

The minimalist, lightweight version of the scooter sees the typical lateral shells removed in light of its electric motor, which occupies much less space than the traditional gas one. All controls, the speedometer, fuel gauge and lights are accessed through an app using wireless connection while a special compartment for storing a smartphone has been created on the dash.

Lots more photos of this elegant machine on Designboom. We have shown many Vespa-like electric scooters (see related links below) and I am not normally a fan of scooters vs lighter, smaller e-bikes with pedals for backup and a bit of exercise, but many of those problems that Corradino D’Ascanio solved back in 1946 apply to bikes and e-bikes too. There is a place for scooters (which isn't in the bike lane!) and this one is such a looker. It's tempting.