Every year, my neighbor knows spring is almost here because he sees me lying under my 24-year-old VW Vanagon looking for the latest leak from my “wasserboxer” engine.
It’s like Groundhog Day. If the thing starts, spring comes early. If not, we’re all one mail-order part away from warmer weather. So when that VW parts place in California sends me the new hose/temp sensor/gasket/fratastat, I fire up the van and summer starts.
I’ve been lucky. I’ve kept the thing going. The van still has Fahrvergnügen. And we get to park it in places like this:
So far (fingers crossed) my van is not like many vans of its vintage – up on blocks in a backyard – a dream deferred – “far from movin.’”
Part of what keeps my van going is a community of other Vanagon owners on an e-mail list. If I have a problem, the hive responds. Heck, sometimes one of them even sends me a tool to fix it with.
But as these vans grow older, parts get harder to find. And on the list, we hear about one VW Vanagon lover or another dropping from our ranks.
So when we hear about a brand new van from VW, we get excited.
We got excited in 2001 when VW brought this concept van to the North American International Auto Show.
The closest that van got to being built was in toy form.
And we got excited again when VW released this concept in 2011.
Again, nothing doing. VW is not going to build this van.
So, I’m spending my winter looking for the next part to keep my 1990 Vanagon going.
In the meantime, VW is spending its time talking up its latest model for the U.S. Market – the Cross Coupe GTE.
So what gives? Why no van? VW vans are iconic. They brought the Beetle back with great fanfare. Why not the bus?
Basically, VW says there’s no market for it. Those of us who still drive the old vans are a small group, they say. Not enough for them to justify the expense.
This week, I caught up with “Pressesprecher bei Volkswagen AG” Christian Buhlmann at the North American International Auto Show.
Here’s my Q &A with him about why VW isn’t planning to bring a van back to the U.S. (You can listen to our discussion by clicking on the file below.)
Q: What are the challenges of bringing something like an old Vanagon or an old bus back to the U.S.?
A: The SUVs in the recent year has become the strongest segment. We are selling 2.8 million cars in our industry just in that one single segment … Unfortunately the MPV segment (multi-purpose vehicle or van) is shrinking in volume …
The problem is for us with Volkswagen, we are car enthusiasts at the one thing, but we also do it to be profitable and make money, because we are a shareholder company …
We offer four different vans in Europe where this market is still strong. We do have vans in Asia and other parts of the world. But here for North America, right now, the market is not too big. Instead we need to comply with market and bring SUVs.
A: It’s either love ’em or hate ’em. People who nowadays still drive a T2, T3, T4, you name ‘em – those vans that we used to have until the 2000s – most of them are enthusiasts that run these vehicles in perfect weather conditions. Those are people who are hard core fans for this segment, but they’re just too few to justify making a new version of this only for this market.
“We are selling vans, very well-equipped vans with four-wheel-drive, with kitchenette, with everything that you want for prices of $50,000 and up, which is not where the market here is…”
The second problem is currently we make those vans in Europe, and even with the rising dollar and weaker Euro share, it is not enough units to make up for a reasonable price. We are selling vans, very well-equipped vans with four-wheel-drive, with kitchenette, with everything that you want for prices of $50,000 and up, which is not where the market here is, or where the camping market is. There is an RV market, true, but those RVs are much larger in size than what we currently offer.
Q: I think there are a lot of people in the U.S. who would be interested in having a camping unit that wasn’t as big as they are now. They’re huge. There’s not a smaller option for people. So what price point would you be looking at to sell something like that in the U.S.?
A: As I said, what we currently offer in Europe is $50,000 and up, and I personally just don’t see enough customers for brining such a vehicle where people would say, “O.k., $50,000. How much RV can I possibly get for that kind of money, in terms of length and equipment?” And that just wouldn’t be an adequate offer for this market.
Q: Is there something different about the European market and why that works in the European market, and why that doesn’t work here in the U.S.?
I would say it’s due to size. Let’s say you’re taking your average camper van and you’re going to Italy, take a U.S. van, you wouldn’t be able to access all these little alleys, these streets that they have – you would be stuck.
So you need something compact in order to get where you want to go. Over here, where everything is accessible, even for large RVs, there is just not this demand. Therefore, people in the majority would rather go for something bigger, if they’re looking for RVs.
Q: When the microbus concept came out there was a lot of passion about it, people were really excited about it. There are people who buy old Vanagons for $70,000 – $80,000 that are redone. So they say there is a market for this, so how did you guys determine that there isn’t really enough volume for that?
A: In the volume car business, as we are not a premium brand, it’s quite simple. If you have a model where there’s no derivative that you can share costs or build up more scale, you need at least 200,000 units per year to make it feasible.
We are a company that offers 300 different model lines over 12 brands, and having sold more than 10 million cars last year.
Among these cars there are also some cars which are not making 200,000 units, but they’re not in the volume market anymore.
Whereas if you want to meet this price point, you need to be in the volume market, and there’s just no other car that you can share components with if you’re making this van, because they’re not compliant with the other models such as hatchbacks, sedans, and so on.
So we’re really looking at supplying for a huge market that just isn’t there in the van market.
Q: And how do you know the market isn’t there, surveys?
A: Yes. By market surveys and we obey what’s happening in the market and track that constantly. And that’s why management decisions went toward SUVs.
Whereas us coming from the van segment, we had a hard time of adjusting our model line here. And that is why we are very successful with the vans in Europe, but over here, everything is going towards the SUV segments.
Q: Are you guys watching what is going on with the Ford Transit at all? They released a van here that seems fairly popular.
A: And by the way, the Transit isn’t something that has been invented over here. The Transit is a transition from a European vehicle that has been there as a competitor to our vehicle for decades.
So they jump into that niche that is existing, but of course, they are coming from a different basis, because Ford is one of the “Big Three,” whereas we are a carmaker with currently a 2% market share here in the U.S.
So it’s much easier for them to take a product and bring it to their home market and then get some of the share, but of course it’s not their main product either.
Q: So their other Ford products support that endeavor, I imagine…
A: They jump into the niche just because it’s possible, and it’s feasible for them, but it wouldn’t be for us.
Q: Is that the final answer, would it ever be feasible here?
A: We never make any predictions on what the future is. Who would of thought what the current gas prices – one year ago. You just cannot predict what it is. And a year from now, if the situation is different, we’re going to talk it over.
volkswagen T1 superhero posters fashion VW vans for comic characters
images courtesy of chung kong
the ‘volkswagen T1 superhero’ poster series by designer chung kong, fashions what the rides of comic characters such as spiderman, the hulk and wonder woman, would look like if they owned a classic VW van. the collection was kickstarted by the realization that superman is even more fortunate than his compatriot heroes because he can fly where ever he wants. the others use many types of vehicles to travel around and in contrast to the fancy, high-tech batmobile and iron man suit, chung imagines them in the much loved T1 automobile.
captain america’s version of the VW T1
the spiderman poster
even though superman can fly, this would be his van
wonder woman’s wagen
the iron man edition
in contrast to christian bale’s vehicle, this is batman’s less high-tech batmobile
the punisher’s model
the thing’s fashioned automobile
a VW T1 van painted suitably for the hulk
Hundreds of mourners turned out to pay their respects at the funeral of James Brindley – as his coffin was brought inside a VW Camper Van.
Family and friends joined together today to celebrate the life of 28-year-old James at Carmountside Crematorium in Stoke-on-Trent.
His parents had hired the iconic van as a tribute to their son.
James, from Blurton, was reported missing following a work Christmas party on December 20 and his body was later found in a stretch of the Caldon Canal in Hanley.
PHOENIX (CBS5) –
Folks from across the state came together to help an Arizona woman whose beloved 1969 Volkswagen bus has been the target of repeated acts of vandalism.
There’s a type of teasing that has been going around for some time now. It involves a lot of sketches released by carmakers, way before they decide to ‘leak’ short obscure videos and half-revealing teaser photos. Volkswagen Group is playing that sketch-teasing game through its Commercial Vehicles department with the 2015 Transporter T6, scheduled to make a world debut on April 15.
VW has released the first design sketch of the sixth-generation Transporter, which will have its official world premiere on April 15. The rendering looks exactly as one would expect, considering that the T6 is expected to retain the T5’s underpinnings – just like VW did with the new Caddy
The industrious T6 model has travelled a long way to reach its sixth generation, after the first iteration saw daylight in 1950. However, spy photos have shown that the new Transporter will feature a new interior with a redesigned dashboard complete with an integrated screen for VW’s latest infotainment system. Rremember the Volkswagen Tristar concept, which hinted at the future T6 model despite being a short-wheelbase version of the current T5 Transporter with a cut roof and a pickup bed.
The Tristar received a 2.0-liter turbodiesel good for 204 HP and 450 Nm (331 lb-ft) along with VW’s 4Motion all-wheel drive system but it’s too early to say if that setup will be adopted by the new Transporter T6. In the concept the power was sent through a seven-speed DSG transmission and into a 4MOTION all-wheel drive system. Further engine-related info will become available as the debut date is closing in, but we do know that the new T6 will be built in Hanover and the interior will receive an extended trim for a more upmarket feel inside the cabin.
The new Transporter T6 will show off a more modern and sophisticated design, with rounder panel edges, an increase in attention to detail especially with panel contours and trimmings, and a slightly sportier stance.
Technically, the next version won’t be much different from the current model as far as we know. It will take on the badge ‘T6′, however, it’s believed it will carry over essentially the same platform and similar dimensions as the current version.
VOLKSWAGEN IS giving very little away, in fact, it’s given nothing away with the short blurb accompanying the sketch saying absolutely nothing about the new, sixth-generation Transporter. Making its official debut back in 1950, the VW Transporter is celebrating its 65th year, and according to Volkswagen, “few could have predicted the enormous impact the Transporter would have in revolutionising the commercial vehicle market, creating a timeless automotive icon in the process”.
“Getting the job done efficiently and reliably has been at the heart of the Volkswagen philosophy for the past 65 years. Its reputation for rugged reliability has endured over the decades to make the Volkswagen Transporter one of the world’s best-selling light commercial vehicles,” Volkswagen said in a statement..
The Camping and Caravanning Club continues to focus on offering great value for money by freezing the price of its Online Membership at just £37 for 2015. This great news for members follows a very successful year for the Club in 2014, which saw the household membership figure rise to 262,576 at the end of December.
Much of this success was down to the launch of the Online Membership offering in spring 2014. It has proven a hit with Club members – nearly 35,000 households have already opted for this significantly discounted, paper-free subscription. Online Membership offers all the benefits of the paper equivalent, but instead of receiving printed versions of the Club magazine and sites directories, the same information is offered in digital format.
The Club magazine, Camping & Caravanning, is available online as a turn-page edition, and all the Club’s campsites can be researched through its SiteSeeker app. Once the SiteSeeker app is downloaded, you don’t need internet access to launch it and research your next site.
If you do have internet access, though, it is possible to click through within the SiteSeeker app to book your holiday online via the Club’s revamped site pages, which are optimised for mobile device use.
And more recently, Online Membership is complemented by an interactive magazine app as the latest addition to the Club’s growing digital offering for members. The app, entitled Camping & Caravanning, is available as an iPad download from Apple’s App Store. It mirrors the award-winning print version of Camping & Caravanning magazine, which continues to be published every month.
The Club’s Membership Services Director, Darren Whittington, said: “The way people choose to consume information has changed drastically in recent years: we now have more visitors to our website via tablet and mobile devices than we do from laptop or desktop computers.
“That’s why we’re delighted by the enthusiastic response to our Online Membership offering, which recognises this preference. And crucially, it enables us to offer a significant discount over paper membership to our members.”
The new Transporter series T6 from Volkswagen was shown off at the IAA Show last year. Based on the speculations right now, we might be seeing the T6 this year.
Under the hood of the Volkswagen T6 is a 2.0 TDI diesel engine that will be powered by a 201hp and will be mated to a seven speed DSG transmission. It will need about 10seconds to go from 0 – 100km/h and will have a top speed of 115mph.
The Volkswagen T6 will be coming in with new LED headlights. Volkswagen also gave it some new lines on the side and also a modified front design. The T6 will also come with a 20inch tablet table that can be used for video conferencing. They also gave it a sound system. Customers can also choose to add on an espresso machine if they want to.
The Volkswagen T6 will have two loading space, the flatbed area to load large items and the water tight drawer that is located under the flatbed. There have been talks that we might get to see the Volkswagen T6 at the Geneva Motor Show this year
Volkswagen Type Two Owners Club Insurance Scheme with Adrian Flux – Tel: 0800 089 0035.
Adrian Flux Insurance Services are pleased to have the opportunity to serve the Volkswagen Type 2 Owners Club and provide its members’ with competitive and bespoke policies for their VW’s any vehicle they may own.
As one of the UK’s most respected specialist insurance intermediaries we have a panel of insurers who we will use to find members the most appropriate policy – with of course a club discount.
At Flux we specialise in a variety of niche motoring markets, including VW vans, campers and buses, and our aim is to provide you with the lowest cost insurance deals available – with a discount for being a club member!
We can arrange cover for everything from a self converted T4 Camper, Transporter Vans used for surfing, factory-fit Westfalia campers, right through to a modified LWB Caravelle. We understand that many owners vehicle of choice is as much about lifestyle, and our cover takes this into account.
All this is possible, because we know that Volkswagen Type2 club members are motoring enthusiasts, who have the experience of driving their vehicles and are much less likely to make a claim than the average driver, and so we’ve been able to create special schemes that reward safe drivers like you.
Get cheaper Club-discounted Insurance from Adrian Flux……………………..
TAILORED TO YOUR NEEDS
We have a panel of insurers who are able to provide VW Type2 club and forum members the following benefits:
• Instant quotations and cover
• Non-standard risks accepted, including:-
• High risk areas
• Unusual occupations
• Laid up/Transit/In construction cover available
• Maximum introductory no claims bonus
• Full Breakdown and Recovery from £36.00 (optional)
• Protected NCB available
• Driving of other cars cover available (differs from insurer-to-insurer, our staff will advise)
• European Green Card Cover
• Agreed value cover available – typically for vehicles over 10 years old – (Please ask if the policy provides this at quotation).
Discounts are available for
• Security Precautions
• Experience of driving your VW Type 2
• Low mileage
• Restricted driving
• Advanced Driving qualifications
• Discounts for other cars owned and Household Insurance.
RING FOR A QUOTE
To take advantage of the club insurance scheme call the dedicated Club quotation line at Adrian Flux on 0800 089 0035 for your quotation. Lines are open 9.00 am to 7.00 pm Monday to Friday. 9.00am – 4.00pm Saturday.
Please mention ‘VolkswagenType2 Owners Club’ when calling…
Please complete the following online quotation form and we will return to you with a quotation:-
In most instances we will require the completion of our Agreed Valuation form. This form must be completed, signed where indicated and sent, together with 6 photographs.
These need to consist of photographs of your vehicle taken showing the front, back, each side, engine bay and interior, with one including the registration number.
We require remittance of £15, payable to Adrian Flux Insurance Services to be sent along with the other info to:
Agreed Valuations, Adrian Flux Insurance Services, East Winch Hall, East Winch, King’s Lynn, Norfolk PE32 1HN
|GENERAL INSURANCE QUESTIONS|
There is a specific area on the discussion forum for general questions about insurance. Adrian Flux Insurance Services will be on hand to answer any questions posted. We have a member of staff – Dan@AdrianFlux who will monitor the forum and offer general advice where requested.
The VW bus you see here was thoroughly refinished and refurbished by the Dangerz, a couple who took the bus from scrapyard fodder to a solar-panel equipped, trans-continental adventure-mobile that saw them drive from Alaska to Costa Rica. It’s the kind of thing they’d make a movie about, and the kind of movie that would do OK at Sundance and have a bunch of people on Netflix say they love it but that probably wouldn’t do super-well in theaters. Taking a look at the Dangerz’ adventure blog, however, I suspect they wouldn’t have it any other way.
This is a car blog, though, and the main thing we’re into here is the 1967 VW bus (or, more accurately, a Type II) that the Dangerz converted to adventuring duty. Up top, a large solar panel provides electricity while the inside of the bus has been totally redone …
… very much in the spirit of a newer Westfalia-type camper.
Sadly, the Dangerz put their globe-trotting VW bus for sale late last year. Presumably, it’s already been sold, and that’s a shame to anyone reading about the bus today – I’m sure the 135 watt solar panel, propane cooking/heat conversion, and high-quality soundproofing/insulation under all that solid-looking cabinetry would have been a welcome addition to any US garage. Less sadly, though, the Dangerz were good enough to chronicle their bus build on their blog.
So, head over there for (many, many) more pictures of the Dangerbus, then come back and let us know what you think of their project ride in the comments section, below. Enjoy!
Source: Gas2. Reproduced with permission