Electric mod: how to beat the London ULEZ on an Italian scooter


Electric scooter London ULEZ

Vespa and Lambretta owners have every reason to dread the introduction of the new London ULEZ (Ultra Low Emission Zone) because the classic Italian scooters are being priced out of the capital. But thanks to a company in Walthamstow, there is a solution.

Retrospective Scooters has been restoring and maintaining classic Vespa and Lambretta scooters for two decades, and the company wasn’t going to let the ULEZ say arrivederci to its thriving business.

Which is why the company has custom-built an electric conversion kit designed for Vespa and Lambretta scooters. You could call it an electric ‘mod’.

Customised Italian scooters were a central part of the mod subculture throughout the 1960s, with riders accessorising them with extra mirrors, lights, luggage racks, flags and crash bars.

Ice cream and nostalgia

Mods in London

The full electric conversion kit starts at £2,495, and once fitted, the ‘Project:E’ electric scooters are exempt from VED and the £12.50 London ULEZ daily charge. A DIY kit will be available soon, should you wish to convert your scooter at home.

Crucially, the conversion doesn’t detract from the classic design – there’s no cutting, welding or grinding involved. The old engine, electrics and cabling are removed, with Retrospective Scooters installing a DC brushless electric motor, sinusoidal motor controller and a 18650 Panasonic lithium-ion battery.

A range of between 30 and 110 miles is possible, so you can head to Brighton seafront for ice cream and nostalgia, before heading back to London with a fully-charged battery. Sorted.

All scooters, motorcycles and mopeds will need to meet Euro 3 emissions standards to enter the London ULEZ from 8 April, or pay the daily charge. Generally speaking, this means all scooters and motorcycles built before July 2007 and after April 1979 are subject to the charge. Pre-1979 bikes fall into a classic vehicle category and are exempt.

‘Makes no sense’

Electric Italian scooter

Niall McCart, the chief scooterist and owner, said: “Economically, paying £12.50 a day to ride a scooter in London makes no sense. Losing any of these iconic scooters because of the ULEZ legislation is unforgivable. These scooters are made to last and can run for 50+ years. We had to come up with a solution to the problem.”

If the mod look isn’t your scene, Retrospective Scooters also offer a range of new electric scooters and mopeds, all backed by a three-year warranty and ULEZ charge exempt. Prices start from around £1,400.

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