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Mercedes-Benz Weekender pop-up camper confirmed for the US

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For years, American drivers have looked on enviously at their European counterparts driving pop-up camper vans, but now Mercedes is sharing the love. Unveiled at the Chicago Auto Show 2020 today, the 2020 Mercedes-Benz Weekender is a pop-up camper based on the Metris van but revamped for road trips.

It’s the handiwork of Driverge Vehicle Innovations and Peace Vans, which take the Metris and give it a pop-up makeover. Unlike larger campers, it’s sized to still fit in urban areas (and more parking lots), though still has space for up to four to sleep.

There’s an elevating roof, which creates a sleeping area for two. They get a 2-inch memory foam mattress atop an integrated spring system, plus three windows. A multipurpose rear bench seat opens out into another bed for two. Alternatively, it can slide across four different positions, adjusting the amount of cargo space behind.

The van’s front seats swivel around 180-degrees, making a lounge configuration. The Weekender gets a second battery too, for powering things like lights, USB ports for charging, and other features. Mercedes will offer options like off-grid power and integrated solar panels if you want to go one step further than that.

There’ll also be an optional 8-foot awning that pulls out of the side of the van, together with a tent that can attach to the rear lift gate to expand living space. Mosquito/bug screens for both the rear hatch and the sliding doors are also available, as are roof racks. A pull-out rear kitchen will be an option too, plus upgraded audio and navigation systems.

The Weekender will rated to tow up to 5,000 pounds, and it’ll come with a variety of driver safety features familiar from Mercedes cars. That includes driver attention monitoring, a reversing camera, and crosswind assistance as standard. Load-adaptive ESP is included too, to avoid wheel-spin, and there’s auto start/stop too.

Mercedes PRO connect – including embedded LTE – will be optional, while tire pressure monitoring is standard. The standard Weekender also gets an integrated table, privacy curtains – including for the windshield – and two ISOFIX child seat connections. Options include electric sliding doors, lane-keeping assistance, active parking assistance, and comfort suspension.

The standard engine is a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder, with 208 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. It’s paired with a 7G-TRONIC 7-speed automatic, pushing power to the rear wheels. Mercedes says it’ll be confirming pricing closer to the Weekender’s launch later in the year, but the passenger version of the Metris van starts at $35,580 plus $1,195 destination.

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Lunaz adds classic Bentleys to its lineup of electrified British cars

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British electric-conversion specialist Lunaz adds classic Bentleys to its lineup after dabbling with electric versions of vintage Rolls-Royces, Jaguars, and Range Rovers. Lunaz claims its 1962 Bentley S2 Continental Flying Spur is the “definitive Gran Turismo” and is the world’s first electric classic Bentley.

It starts with factory original and coach-built bodies of a Bentley Continental S1, S2, or S3 manufactured from 1955 to 1965, in a coupe and four-door Flying Spur body style. Visually, Lunaz has retained all the classic lines and creases of the original body, hammered and carved to perfection by Mulliner Park Ward. The only visual mod is the paint, custom-chosen by the buyer, of course.

Underneath that gorgeous body, though, is a different story. All the vintage bits and pieces are giving way to modern components. You won’t find a 6.2-liter V8 Bentley engine under the hood, and all the suspension and brake parts are new. Lunaz failed to discuss the powertrain specifics, but we’re assuming the Bentley will carry the same electric drivetrain as the firm’s very own electric Rolls-Royce Phantom V and Silver Cloud.

Powering the electric motors is a 120 kWh battery pack with enough energy to cover 300 miles of range. It also has modest oomph to push the Bentley from zero to 60 mph in under five seconds, not bad for an unassertive vintage British car.

Meanwhile, the interior is as British as a cup of tea. All the leather and walnut trim are there, with each piece carefully hand-restored to match the original. Lunaz also gave its classic Bentley a new retro-style infotainment screen and climate control system. Also, electric power steering is now standard.

After building its first customer car, Lunaz is now accepting orders for its limited run of electrified S1, S2, and S3 Bentley Continental variants. And as expected, the sub-$500k (£350,000) base price is sure to leave a gaping hole in your bank account. Nobody said a vintage electric Bentley would come cheap, right? Also, the build slots are ‘extremely limited,’ so better act quickly.

Lunaz Bentley Continental Gallery

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Ample promises faster electric vehicle charging with modular battery swapping

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A company called Ample has announced a new system it believes will bring faster and cheaper energy delivered to electric vehicles. The system Ample has developed can be rolled out across an entire city in only a few weeks. The system uses Modular Battery Swapping to deliver a 100 percent charge to an EV in less than 10 minutes.

The Ample system would work with any electric vehicle. Three times faster would mean dramatically shorter charging times and less cost to install the EV infrastructure. The company claims that the system is designed for rapid deployment and could equip an entire metropolitan area with the charging network in a matter of weeks with energy costs as cheap as gasoline.

The Ample system can also capture wind and solar power when available. One of the biggest reasons vehicle shoppers don’t go for electric vehicles is long charge times and poor electric charging infrastructure availability. Ample technology relies on two major components to address that issue.

The first major component is that Ample is a fully-autonomous swapping station that removes depleted battery modules from the car and replaces them with completely charged ones. The depleted battery packs are placed on shelves where they are recharged. The second major component is a modular battery architecture allowing any EV to use Ample stations.

Ample modules are described as Lego-like and can accommodate vehicles of any size or model. Charging stations require no construction and can be assembled wherever two parking spots are available, making them convenient for locations like grocery stores, gas stations, or rest stops along the highway. Large fleets of electric vehicles will be the first to use the Ample system, and deployments are underway in the Bay Area right now. Ample also says it’s currently working with a number of the largest automakers in the world for mass deployment in the US, Europe, and Asia.

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This SWAE McLaren 720S is a cacophony of 3D-printed carbon-fiber goodness

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The McLaren 720S is an otherworldly supercar, but American tuning firm SWAE has something doubly desirable. Just a stone’s throw away from Glacier National Park in Montana is SWAE, a relative newcomer in the aftermarket tuning business. If you’re a newbie and you want to generate noise, creating a custom McLaren 720S with 3D-printed widebody panels is not a bad idea.

“SWAE operates in a space beyond luxury – enhancing each caliber of craftsmanship to create a sum greater than its parts,” explains SWAE Co-Founder Trevon Hermosillo. “Through new experiences and vehicles for innovation, we plan to test the limits of our potential.”

Right off the bat, SWAE isn’t going for subtlety with its widebody McLaren 720S. However, the execution is hardcore yet classy, befitting of a McLaren 720 S. Executive editor Chris Davies took the 720S coupe for a spin in 2018, and he had the kindest words for McLaren’s supercar. “The 720S will disarm you with its comfortable cabin and precision engineering. Get beneath the surface, though, and the 720S can be every bit as violent, raw, and downright disrespectful as you’d hope a supercar could be,” said Davies.

It’s hard to improve upon a proven recipe, but SWAE’s passion for 3D printing is the new ingredient in McLaren’s broth. The car has a bespoke 3D-printed widebody kit using premium twill carbon-fiber. The widebody look is not as outrageous as you’d expect. Still, the wider chin, bigger air inlets, gorgeous 10-spoke wheels, and massive rear spoiler (with 3D-printed titanium wing supports) are telltale signs of the immense power lying underneath.

The details are scarce, but SWAE said its “exclusive performance tune” takes McLaren’s twin-turbocharged V8 engine to dizzying heights. The tuner claims the engine is now pumping out more than 900 horsepower to the rear wheels. Measured in the crankshaft, SWAE’s McLaren 720S is breaching 1,000 horsepower. Unbelievable.

This astonishing SWAE McLaren 720 S Widebody proof-of-concept recently debuted in Miami. Expectedly, the car on this page is not for sale, but you can order your very own widebody 720S from SWAE to the tune of $500,000 – presumably inclusive of a McLaren 720S.

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