In the world of postwar scooters, the Czechoslovakian Čezeta is not universally beloved. Its barrel-shaped body and snout of a front fairing — which made it more practical than its sleek Italian cousins — gave it the nickname “Pig.” During its midcentury manufacture, very few were exported into the Anglosphere (save an import-skirting partial-assembly deal in New Zealand), so they never became icons of Mod London or 50cc California Dreamin’. But to Czechs and much of the rest of middle and southern Europe, the Čezeta represented the same kind of freedom. Now it’s being reborn, free of its petrol engine.
Everything old is new again, of course, and it’s not much of surprise that someone has recreated the Čezeta as retrofuture transportation with thoroughly modern insides. It is somewhat surprising that this new company, licensing the old designs and trademarks, plans an electric Čezeta as more than a one-off. Christened the “Type 506” — following the Type 501 and 502, which were built from 1957 to 1964 — the new electric version will be hand built in Prague for 100 customers in the 2016 model year, at a cost of €9900 (about $11,000).
That makes for an expensive bit of nostalgia, but the Type 506 is something more than just that. Replacing the petrol engine is a 5kW electric motor powered by advanced Lithium Iron Yttrium Phosphate (LiFeYPO4) batteries. That gives it a 60-mile range (which can easily be doubled with more batteries), and sprightly acceleration of 0-60km/h (37mph) in 3.5 seconds. It also makes it fast enough to use on EU highways with an A1 license in most countries. Modern conveniences include an accompanying smartphone app to adjust performance and efficiency, a USB charger, an AC outlet capable of powering appliances, a reverse gear, Bluetooth speakers, and undercarriage lighting — the latter two are recommended for safety, since the Type 506 is almost silent in operation.
Otherwise, very little has changed. The 506 preserves the Čezeta’s long wheelbase, and measures six and a half feet long; those dimensions made the original perfect for two passengers, and actually gave them room for a bit of luggage. The integrated faring and front fender, which contained the gas tank on original models, now contain a built-in charger that fits standard plugs for charging anywhere. The body of the scooter, though lighter than its predecessors thanks to modern technology, shines with all of the bulbous chrome optimism of Atomic Age design. And that, here on the leading edge of the Post-Petrol Age, seems somehow appropriate.
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