We’ll soon be able to travel again, so in case you’re planning your first excursion, we have a suggestion: Go to Europe and buy a new Messerschmitt Kabinenroller! A German outfit called Messerschmitt-Werke has a new, slightly-modernized version of everyone’s favorite mid-century motorcycle-adjacent deathtrap, now with modern gasoline and electric power.
The new Messerschmitt is available in two versions, both featuring a fiberglass body over a steel-aluminum honeycomb chassis. The KR-202, shown in the photos, gets a 125-cc single-cylinder fuel-injected engine that produces just over 7 hp. With the help of its CVT automatic transmission, the KR-202 will get the two intrepid adults and one child squeezed into its cabin to a top speed of 56 mph. Such performance is a bit off the original KR-200—191cc, 9.9 hp, 67 mph.
Want to go greener? No problem! Messerschmitt-Werke also offers the E-KR5000, a battery powered version with a 6.7-hp electric motor, good for the same 56 mph. Range is about 50 miles on a charge, and you can double that with an optional second battery.
The neu Messerschmitt has all modern conveniences, including hydraulic brakes for all three wheels, adjustable dampers, and lights that meet modern (European) standards. How does it handle? Check out this video of a KR-202 puttering around the track—and don’t miss the bit at 1:03 when the driver lifts the inside wheel…
Ready to buy? Pricing starts at €10,950,00 for the KR-202 and €12,950,00 for the KR E-5000 (around $13,300 and $15,720 respectively) plus options and taxes. You’ll have to go pick it up at the factory, of course; the good news is that they’re being built in Malaga, Spain, and we can think of few lovelier places to try out your new microcar. Driving one of these on American roads would probably be suicidal, but what a way to go!
Last June, along with a facelift, the Tiguan compact SUV got a number of new variants, the most interesting of which is the sporty Tiguan R.
Although it was launched in Europe last year, the Tiguan R will arrive in North America this fall as a 2022 model year. It sits at the top of the SUV’s range and promises a sportier driving experience without sacrificing its practicality.
Using the same turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine as the Golf R, it has 315 HP (320 PS / 235 kW) and 310 lb-ft (420 Nm) of torque. This enables a 0-62 mph (0-100 km/h) acceleration in 4.9 seconds in the ‘R’ driving mode with the launch control engaged, and a 155 mph (250 km/h) top speed. The engine drives all four wheels through a seven-speed DSG automatic transmission.
Besides the meaty lump, the 2021 Tiguan R has upgraded brakes and a specially tuned suspension with adaptive shock absorbers. It rides on standard 20-inch wheels, but in some markets, Volkswagen is offering a 21-inch set at no extra cost. The Akrapovic titanium exhaust system does bump the price of the sporty SUV beyond the recommended retail price of €56,703.53 ($68,966) in Germany and £45,915 ($64,205) in the UK. We don’t know yet how much it will cost in the U.S., but expect to pay more than the SEL Premium R-Line, which is the current range-topper of the series and comes with an MSRP of $39,095.
So, is the Tiguan R worth considering? It depends on what you want your next ride to do, but if you’re interested in it, then you should check out the following review which highlights some of the sporty SUV’s strong and weak points.
For the latest episode of his “Workshop Diaries” YouTube show, former “Wheeler Dealers” host Edd China starts work on one of his more unusual projects. It’s an Outspan Orange, a fruit-shaped vehicle built in the 1970s to promote a South African orange grower.
China acquired his driveable Orange directly from the company, restored it, and has driven it occasionally ever since. Because it’s been acting up recently, China puts aside his other projects temporarily to focus on it in Episode 6.
The Orange is based on a classic Mini, though with a tiny 48-inch wheelbase that matches the track. Owing to the unusual bodywork, the engine sits under the dashboard. So if it breaks down at the side of the road, China will be sheltered from the weather while working on it, at least. The spherical interior has a definite ’70s vibe, with a smattering of Mini gauges and controls.
Edd China’s Outspan Orange
After removing a bird’s nest from the engine compartment, China finds a leaking fuel line. Fixing that smooths out the previously rough-running engine, seemingly addressing the problem, but because the Orange had been sitting for awhile, China also replaces the air filter and the spark plugs.
The work gets the car back on the road—a dirt road in this instance—and a short test drive reveals plenty of other problems, including a hesitant engine, a bearing in need of replacement, and steering that pulls dangerously to the right. China plans to tackle those issues in future episodes, so instead he segues into a segment answering viewers’ questions, which in turn leads him to briefly pop the hood of his ongoing Land Rover Range Rover project to make the sure the engine has oil pressure.
This episode also continues the story of the world’s fastest electric ice cream van, which China started building in 2018 for a successful Guinness World Record run. He started out with a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, and has spent the past few episodes focusing on how he got the stock transmission to couple with an electric motor. That continues in this episode, where China discusses machining down the flywheel to save weight, and machining an adapter to allow the motor to fit with the transmission. That leads to the next issue, which is the need for a bellhousing of sorts. The finished product will certainly be included in a future episode.
Watch the full episode for a complete explanation of the processes China uses to work on all three of his ongoing projects.
Self-driving tech company Pony.ai, backed by Toyota Motor Corp., said on Monday its next-generation technology for robotaxis will be using lidars made by Luminar Technologies Inc.
Lidars are laser-based sensors that are a key component to many autonomous vehicle technologies and help them perceive the environment around the cars.
Pony.ai CEO James Peng said the startup chose Luminar’s Iris lidar for its performance but also because it can be integrated into the car better than traditional lidars.
“It’s actually starting to blur the line between what you see as a very well designed passenger vehicle and the monstrosities that have been on top of some of the AV test vehicles,” said Austin Russell, founder and CEO of Luminar.
Luminar’s Iris lidar is about 10 centimeters high and Peng said four of them will be mounted on top of the car for 360 degree views. He said Pony.ai is aiming for automotive-grade production of autonomous fleets in 2023 globally.
Pony.ai has Robotaxi services in Guangzhou, Shanghai, Beijing, and Irvine and Fremont in California with a fleet of about 200 autonomous vehicles. Late last year, the startup raised $267 million at a valuation of $5.3 billion.
In addition to Pony.ai, Luminar earlier this year announced a partnership with SAIC Motor Corp., China’s largest automaker and a deal with the self-driving software subsidiary of Volvo Cars, owned by China’s Geely Automobile Holdings.
Luminar, founded in 2012, is one of several U.S. lidar manufacturers in the past year to go public via reverse mergers with blank-check companies.
Two men are facing criminal charges over the sale of firearms off a car dealership lot in Hutto, Texas, about 30 miles northeast of Austin.
Craig Tondre, 42, formerly a sales manager at Covert Ford Hutto, part of the Texas-based Covert Auto Group, was arrested in April on suspicion of illegally selling weapons and ammunition. Tondre worked with another dealership employee, 44-year-old Joshua Ellard, to sell them, according to criminal complaints filed April 6 in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas. Ellard was also arrested that month.
Tondre is charged with dealing firearms without a license, while Ellard — who was previously convicted in Florida of second-degree murder — is charged as a felon in possession of a firearm and a machine gun.
Tondre and Ellard were fired “immediately after management was informed of their arrests on allegations of selling illegal firearms,” Covert Auto Group said in a statement last week to KXAN-TV. The group said management and owners didn’t know about any of the alleged activities before the men’s arrests.
On multiple occasions, Ellard sold firearms and ammunition to undercover Austin Police Department officers, according to the complaints.
Two different Austin detectives on separate occasions in February and March bought a silencer, 100 rounds of ammunition and four rifles from Ellard, according to the complaints. Before and during the transactions, Ellard made comments about checking with Tondre, his boss, on what was available to sell, the complaints allege.
Tondre wasn’t physically there for any of the transactions, but officers conducting surveillance saw him moving a rifle from his residence to the dealership, according to the complaints.
Ellard allegedly agreed to a purchase at Tondre’s residence on March 31, and while there, a detective saw a large safe containing about 10 firearms. That transaction is what ultimately confirmed Tondre’s involvement and led to his arrest, according to the complaints.
Tondre and Ellard were released on bond in mid-April.