Vespa makes some great scooters, but up until today, the Italian two-wheeled wasps were burdened by a rather unwieldy website. It's hard for customers to make informed purchasing decisions when the manufacturer's website doesn't offer the information that's needed to differentiate its wares from all the other options. So, Piaggio, Vespa's parent company, has developed a brand-new interactive website for its line of stylish, metal bodied scooters, and we spent some time talking with Paolo Timoni, President and CEO of Piaggio Group Americas and he took us on a guided tour. Follow along after the break.

According to Paolo, many Americans consider scooters as toys. The reality is that in Europe, where scooters are used extensively, consumers have more than one vehicle in the family and combine the usage of the two vehicles for all of their driving needs. Under circumstances where a smaller two-wheeler will suffice, the gas-guzzler stays at home. To illustrate how much of a fuel mileage difference can be had by choosing the properly sized vehicle, Vespa has created a Why Where and How section that instantly displays the combined mileage of a typical Vespa scooter and another car, from a compact to a HUMMER luxury SUV. Give it a shot for yourself.

One single hybrid may be able to provide, say, 40 miles per gallon of fuel efficiency. By adding a scooter to the fleet, an SUV driver could keep their utility vehicle for when it's really needed and could still average over 40 mpg if they use their new scooter half of the time. Of course, that figure improves if the SUV is replaced by a more efficient vehicle, with a typical compact car with 30 miles per gallon combining with the Vespa to offer an average rating of over 50 mpg. Not bad at all.

Another interesting feature of the new Vespa website is called Community and Downloads and allows users to log in and offer scooter-friendly route advice to other riders in their area, who can then share and rate those routes for others. It's meant to be a community and uses Google Maps for its functionality, so individual routes can be downloaded for later use.

The Vespa brand has been around since the 1940s, so there is plenty of history that the brand can draw from. To highlight this fact, the scooter maker has created a Heritage and History section where lovers of the iconic Italian marque can research past models and advertising campaigns. It's clear that the Vespa scooter was designed to provide a practical, low-cost method for Europeans to get around. After years of successful operations overseas, it seems that the United States if finally ready to get with the two-wheeled program. We've had fun playing around with the new site and imagine that diehard Vespa lovers will find plenty to like and that newcomers will enjoy their new-found education.

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