2017 Oracle: Vespa PX replacement? | EDITORIAL
Crystal balls. That’s what you get if your waterproofs leak at the crutch, but there’s another type. One to look into the future…
Here’s our SLUKin’ Vespa predictions for 2017…
New Vespa PX for 2017?
So are Piaggio going to make a new Vespa PX or not?
We understood last year that a decision had been made by Piaggio to carry on with the classic Vespa line. While modern automatic Vespas have a wide appeal, there are still many people who love the brand for its roots.
People love the PX. Many riders want to interact with their scooter, to customise it and to change gear themselves.
Sadly, the old Vespa PX can’t attain Euro 4 approval, so it is effectively dead from 2016, but what are the options to develop a successor?
If Piaggio do make a successor to the PX then it is a gamble for them. They already killed off the classic Vespa once before, only to realise what a mistake it was when LML stepped into their shoes with colourful retro versions of their Star clone in 2-stroke, 4-stroke and automatic.
What Piaggio need to do if they want to keep the classic scooter lovers happy is give them something closer to historic Vespa than the current automatic models without development costs spiralling out of control, but still complying with legislation.
Not an easy task.
OPTION 1: Build a geared 4-stroke engine for the current PX chassis
To save on re-tooling for the frame it is possible to make a 4-stroke engine that fits into the Vespa chassis. To see that, you only have to look to India. Not to LML – who built a new subframe for the Star 4T – but to Bajaj who made just such an engine for their Chetak Vespa clone in 2002.
This is a possibility.
OPTION 2: Build a completely new scooter with a new geared 4-stroke engine
To fit all the features required by legislation and customers (catalaysed exhausts, large airbox, ABS or CBS braking) into the original PX chassis seems tricky, so why not build a new PX-style 4-stroke engine and a new chassis to wrap around it?
By the time you’ve done this, the costs are very high, so Piaggio would need to sell a lot of units. That will only happen if the scooter offers something new to the market.
Are retro looks and some sort of manual gearshift enough to warrant developing a completely new scooter family?
OPTION 3: Modify a current Vespa automatic scooter to make it more retro
There is a cost argument that it would be cheaper to restyle one of the current Vespas to look more retro – or develop a ‘derived’ chassis for the current engine range. Maybe they could add some sort of ‘tip-tronic’ gearshift to the automatic transmission system in a bid to attract traditionalists.
That’s a more cost effective solution, but would it wash with those who want real retro?
OPTION 4: Make a new engine for a lightly-modified PX chassis
There is the option to do what LML did with the Star 4-stroke and modify just enough of the PX tooling to accommodate a more modern engine in something that retains the classic Vespa lines, but has space for things like an ABS pump and large airbox?
This is a feasible scenario.
OPTION 5: Make a new Direct Injection 2-stroke engine for the PX replacement
Here’s a radical proposition, but hear me out.
When direct injection 2-stroke technology came out, first on the Aprilia SR50 DiTech, and more lately on the Piaggio Purejet models, it was risky.
These complex systems were in their infancy and in the case of the Aprilia DiTech – not immediately reliable – when the alternative of a 4-stroke engine solution was tried and tested.
Since that time 4-strokes have needed fuel-injection, catalysers and more and more sensors to meet regulations. Essentially, a 4-stroke engine has become ever more complex.
In the mean time, work has continued with 2-stroke in more simplified direct-injection formats that still meet Euro4 regulations. Is it possible that the most cost-effective solution for the PX replacement is simply to develop a direct-injection version of the current 2-stroke?
It’d be a big gamble that I’m not sure Piaggio would take.
Gears or automatic?
This is the big question.
What are the options:
- Conventional CVT automatic
- Manual gears and manual clutch
- Manual gears and clutch with alternative operation (see video above)
- Switchable CVT with artificial ‘gear steps’ (see video below)
Personally, I’d doubt that a PX replacement would be purely conventional CVT, otherwise why not simply buy a GTS or modern Primavera.
Hopefully Piaggio will pull something interesting out of the bag for us, but there’s no guarantee.
Of course there is the option that Piaggio don’t bother at all with a PX replacement, which would not be a surprise given the risk involved, but our spies tell us that at the moment it is looking much more likely that we’ll get a new Vespa this year.
Our predictions for a Vespa PX replacement:
- More traditional styling than a Vespa GTS but unlikey to be an unmodified PX chassis.
- Some type of manual gearchange (push-button perhaps) possibly with an automatic mode as well.
- Front and rear hydraulic brakes with ABS.
- Water-cooling, possibly with an engine-mounted radiator.
- Most likely 4-stroke, but possibly 2-stroke direct injection.
- Possibly with engine stop-start technology, like the Piaggio Medley.