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Lepton Escooter
The Lepton electric motor scooter holds an 80% market share in Italy.

Oxygen on the Move

Italian firm has ambitious plans for its line of personal electric vehicles.

By Bill

Oxygen S.p.A.'s business plan is unabashed in its optimism and candid in its ambitions.

"Oxygen's objective is to achieve strategic market dominance within the TWEV (two-wheel electric vehicle) and LEV marketplace."

If the advanced billing given the Lepton motor scooter is indication, the Padua, Italy-based company may do just that. It is one of the first electric motor scooters to enter the marketplace in Italy, boosting the first European use of Evercel's new Nickel-Zinc battery. The company claims it is also the only electric motor scooter permitted to be driven on the road in Europe and the US.

Originally developed by Atala in Italy -- a firm taken over by Oxygen in 1999 -- the Lepton comes in two models, one using Ni-Zn and the other equipped with a standard lead-acid battery. While it is expected to cost more, the company claims the Ni-Zn version will offer enhanced performance over the conventional lead-acid battery.

The Ni-Zn battery is some 40 kg (88 lbs.) lighter, has a life expectancy equal to approximately 20,000 miles (500 recharge cycles), offers over 60% greater range, is less sensitive to cold (limit is -14 degrees C) and can be fast-charged to 80% SOC in 20 minutes. The Lepton E (Ni-Zn equipped) has an estimated range of between 50 and 70 km. Both the lead-acid and Ni-Zn models can climb an 18% grade.

Oxygen S.p.A. recently delivered 75 Leptons TWEVs to rental agencies on the islands of Capri, Lampedusa and Procida.

In Europe the Ni-Zn version retails for under 3,000 Euros (US$2,743), but with various Italian government incentives and rebates, the cost can come down to as low as 1,060 Euros (US$970) depending in which Italian city the vehicle is registered (see below). Other European countries are offering similar incentives.

The company also has introduced two other product lines, including a 300 watt, pedelec (pedal-assisted) electric bicycle -- available in either men's or woman's 28 inch frames -- called the "Distance" and an electric "scooterboard" by ZAP. The Distance uses a proprietary Oxygen-designed electric-assist offering a 30 km range. Presumably it also will come in either lead-acid or Ni-Zn versions.

Also in development is a new two-passenger motor scooter with a top speed of 60-70 kph and a range in excess of 60 km. The new scooter is expected to become available in second quarter of 2002.

Oxygen says it is also planning to launch a line of marine products: including leisure craft for boaters, water propulsion devices for scuba divers and snorkelers, and commercial craft for use in inland waterways.

While all this is good news for Italian consumers, Oxygen plans to offer their products to EV-enthusiasts in North America through various distribution channels, including Oxygen-owned or franchised retail outlets. The company has also partnered with Eurosolare -- Europe's largest photovoltaic panel manufacturer -- and gas station giant Agip/IP (whose parent company also owns Eurosolare) to eventually install a nationwide network of solar recharging stations across Italy. The partnership is discussing the feasibility of constructing 250 such stations within two years time.

Watch out world, Oxygen is on the move... and that's just "bella" with us!

Rebates and Incentives in Italy

The table below indicates the EV incentives currently available in Italy. Source: Oxygen S.p.A.

CityIncentive(s)
Rome 450 (est.) Euros on electric scooters
150 (est.) Euros on electric bicycles
Florence 450 (est.) Euros on electric scooters
150 (est.) Euros on electric bicycles
Naples 625 (est.) Euros on electric scooters
Additional National Incentives
Insurance50% discount (savings est. 125 Euros yearly)
License feeWaived (savings est. 20 Euros yearly)
Rebate400 (est) Euros for electric scooters and 150 (est.) for electric bicycles

Times Article Viewed: 6458
Published: 26-Aug-2001

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