The postwar era saw a period of frenzied innovation in the automotive industry, which in part led to Messerschmitt’s Kabinroller, a three-wheeled car built by the German airplane manufacturer. Now the odd little car is making a comeback after nearly 60 years, but this time in the form of an electric car.
On its way into production, then out of production, and now finally back into production, Messerschmitt’s original Kabinroller went through a bit of a checkered past, to put it lightly.
During WWII, the German airplane maker used Jewish slave labor from concentration camp prisoners in its factories. After the war, the company was forbidden from building airplanes for 10 years.
In search of alternative products to manufacturer, the company landed on the design of a three-wheeled car that became the Kabinroller, or cabinscooter.
It only lasted a few years, and its maker Messerschmitt has passed through a few different hands since, but now the funny little car is making a comeback with its electric version already in production.
The new KR-E5000 model is currently being produced in the company’s Malaga factory in Spain. The first models are expected to be delivered to German customers in May.
The new design retains the two-seater tandem layout along with the same 10″ wheels in a tadpole-trike layout. The little car even manages to preserve the original Kabinroller’s facial expression quite well.
The 195 kg (430 lb) three-wheeled electric car’s paltry 5 kW (6.7 hp) electric motor won’t be accused of being overpowered, that’s for sure. But it’s enough to slowly bring the KR-E5000 Kabinroller up to a top speed of 90 km/h (56 mph).
The 1.4 kWh battery isn’t overly impressive either, especially since we’ve tested electric bicycles with more battery capacity than that. The company claims an optimistic range of 80 km (50 mi) from that small battery.
They also offer a second battery option for those that would like to double their range. If you plan on hitting anywhere close to the Kabinroller’s top speed, I think that second battery would be a wise choice.
Anyone wanting to make the new KR-E5000 Kabinroller their own will need to fork over €12,950 plus another €690 for transfer fees, a total of around USD $16,500.
That price brings the Kabinroller in at only slightly less than the cost of an Arcimoto FUV, perhaps the most popular three-wheeled electric car in the US (though if you want to get particular, these are all technically motorcycle-class vehicles masquerading as cars).
Subscribe to Electrek on YouTube for exclusive videos and subscribe to the podcast.