Project E; not the recreational habits of ravers, but an electric transport alternative.
Project E; not the recreational habits of ravers, but an electric transport alternative.

London’s Retrospective Scooters introduce their fully-reversible electric conversion for the classic Vespa smallframe. Largeframe Vespa and Lambretta kits planned to follow.

This first prototype will be on display at this year’s Vespa World Days in Belfast.

A fake exhaust and engine cover can be added to make the Vespa look as authentic as possible.
A fake exhaust and engine cover can be added to make the Vespa look as authentic as possible.
VIDEO | Project E revealed.

Why Electric?

Like it or not, emissions regulations are coming to city centres which will ban internal combustion engines. Most EU countries have stated bans on petrol and diesel engines form 2040, but places like Amsterdam have already introduced restrictions.

If you need to go into city centres in future then it will be with some form of electric vehicle, but why use a dull modern plastic one when you could ride a cool historic metal one?

This Primmy has a legshield toolbox, but long-range versions will mount a second battery here in the shape of a spare wheel.
This Primmy has a legshield toolbox, but long-range versions will mount a second battery here in the shape of a spare wheel.

How is it converted?

 

Niall and electrical whizz John Chubb have done it the easiest way possible, by creating a swinging arm to hold a 10” wheel hub motor. The speed controller sits in the bottom of the frame and a special battery container occupies the space that would have been utilised by the fuel tank and carburettor.

“I think this is really worth bringing out, this is a REVERSIBLE conversion”, explains John.  “When Niall gave me the brief he insisted on no cutting, welding or drilling.  With the exception of two small holes drilled inside the frame cavity (unseeable), everything can be removed, and a petrol engine fitted back.  I think that’s neat for ‘the undecided’.”

“We have our current prototype registered with DVLA as change of fuel use to electric, by simply sending in the V5 with a covering letter stating that we as a shop have done this conversion , V5 was sent back with “electric” in the use of fuel section. It’s that easy”, explains Niall.

The 5.5 kg battery takes the place of the fuel tank and is removable for charging.
The 5.5 kg battery takes the place of the fuel tank and is removable for charging.

How does it perform?

With anything electric there is a direct inverse relationship between performance and battery capacity versus range. If you want more speed – and there are powerful motors in this size – then your range will be reduced unless you add more batteries.

“The bottom line here is you get what you pay for (after all, you are buying your fuel source for the next 10 years!)”, explains John.  “What we have developed is the ability to build batteries to our customers demands.  If you want to use this at weekends, sunny days, or to pop to the pub now and again, we will suggest a low cost version (with a range circa 30 miles), that fits under the seat.  If you want to commute we would propose higher power cells, better charge cycle performance, and slightly extended range (around 35).  Sadly the latter costs more than double the former.”

“If you want to go further, we will add a wheel battery.  This extends the range by another 55 miles – giving total range 85 miles (or 90 with the expensive high cycle battery).  The costs are linear; thus a 60 mile battery cost twice as much as a 30 mile battery. The key point here is that we can build the batteries to suit your intended use so there is no point overpaying.

Electric engines selected for this project come in two sizes:

  • 1000watt or also known as 1 kW (48v batteries)
  • And 3000watt or 3 kW (60v batteries)

Nial continues; “1000 Watts is roughly equivalent of a 50cc, so we set it up with 30 mph speed limit but it accelerates like a 125 and has great range. Really this one is only going in the Smallframes.”

“3000 Watts we shall say is the 125 equivalent and will have a 55 mph top speed. This is mainly for a large frames but can also go in small frames although it’ll reduce they’re range a little.”

61-800
57-800

Is it practical?

The underseat battery weighs around 5.5Kg, and has been designed so that it can be removed when the scooter is not in use.  This offers two benefits: it can be charged indoors and also it means that the scooter can’t be stolen and ridden without a battery to power it.

Stated recharge time is quite fast: 70% in 90-minutes or around 6-hours for a full charge.

Is it Green?

“On recycling, we have taken every step to make this Green”, explains John. “We’ve fitted low-power LED lights all round, and even the battery case is made of 100% recycled plastic.

“I think what also needs to be said about these scooters is that this is recycling!” adds Niall. “We are using what we already have. Recommissioning old scooters must be a lesser carbon footprint than building new ones.”

The swing arm and hub motor make this conversion very simple.
The swing arm and hub motor make this conversion very simple.
Rear brake can be hand or foot operated.
Rear brake can be hand or foot operated.

What will it cost?

 

This is a bit of an open-ended question because Retrospective plan to offer three formats with the price depending on how much of a road-worthy scooter you start with:

  1. Complete finished vehicles (P.O.A depending on model)
  2. Conversions carried out to your scooter.
  3. DIY conversion kits

On top of these you must add the price of the batteries depending on the specification you want.

Prices for the batteries are as follows:

  • 48v/15.5 ah small frame underseat Medium Power battery £495 (25 miles)
    48v/18.2 ah small frame underseat High Power battery £850 (30 miles)
  • 48v/39.6ah spare wheel battery Medium Power battery £795 (60 miles)
    48v/52.2ah spare wheel battery High Power battery £1750 (75 miles)
  • 60V/28.6ah spare wheel battery Medium Power battery £750 tbc on test
    60v/37.7 ah spare wheel battery High Power battery £1750 tbc on test

 

Design for the Spare Wheel battery
Design for the Spare Wheel battery
Batteries come with either standard or high-performance Lithium Ion cells.
Batteries come with either standard or high-performance Lithium Ion cells.

When will it be ready?

Retrospective are looking at assessing demand and taking deposits from Vespa World Days onwards with a minimum lead time of 6 months for a kit, longer for a complete ready-to-ride scooter.

To be honest, I’m not certain that two-stroke infused Vespisti are the biggest market for such a device because they all love petrol-power. Where Project-E will really make sense is for those who want the coolest and most effortless way to get into an emission-restricted urban environment while at the same time doing your bit for pollution.

In many ways Project E deals with the same scenarios as our friends at Cezeta, but while the Czech product is retro looking and has a massive range due to the chassis layout, Retrospective’s solution is perhaps less practical but indubitably more stylish because it’s built around a genuine Vespa.

Watch out for a road test on SLUK soon.

 

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For more information visit Retrospective Scooters

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