The “California” title alone makes it appear as if Volkswagen is trolling us. The corporate that introduced us one of many first tenting prepared vans, the Microbus, and later iterations of the Vanagon and even the underrated Eurovan, sells a van purpose-built for tenting and dwelling out of, calls it the “California,” appears on the booming marketplace for overlanding autos and camper vans within the US, and nonetheless refuses to promote it right here. It’s as in the event that they haven’t heard of #vanlife.
That is notably annoying as a result of VW simply launched particulars concerning the latest model of the California van, and it appears near-perfect. The setup is an offshoot of the Transporter van, which you’ll’t purchase within the US, most likely the rationale they received’t promote the California right here both—extra on that in a second—and the brand new California is the T6.1 model.
In addition to the ingenious camper-friendly and little question camper-designed guts of this factor, there are two essential bits of envy-inducing particulars to share: all of them include a 2.Zero-liter diesel engine, and you may have one with AWD.
Basically it’s as should you took a Vanagon Westy Syncro and modernized and electrified the whole lot and gave it a torquey, fuel-efficient diesel motor. This factor would promote like hotcakes within the US.
You may contemplate this a “good camper.” A complicated management system handles issues just like the onboard fridge, lighting programs, and the pop-up tent. All of which is displayed and operated by way of a clean-looking show above the windshield. There may be even a setting that exhibits the van’s angles when parked, serving to the motive force dial in probably the most stage tenting place with out having to eyeball it or use a line stage.
If desired, perhaps on a chilly and gray morning, when excessive privateness is needed, or simply to maintain out a soul-penetrating early mun solar’s glare by way of the home windows, you’ll be able to set an alarm that can regularly elevate the inside LED lights to imitate the dawn.
The within is styled out in wooden and aluminum trim, which appears like one thing out of a hipster farm-to-table restaurant, however appears clear and acceptable right here. There’s a two-burner range, the entrance captain seats swivel, the rear bench seat reclines, the tables stow simply for enormous quantities of flooring house.
So why can’t we get this factor right here? Nicely, it’s onerous to say precisely, however appears to be that VW doesn’t assume there’s a large enough market within the US and that potential consumers would balk on the value. The bottom mannequin begins at almost $50ok, with out delivery prices, which, certain that’s some huge cash. However persons are climbing over one another to drop twice that on a Sprinter van, shopping for far, much more van most really want, and Mercedes isn’t complaining. If reminiscence serves, the Eurovan has all the time been a extremely costly van too, and VW has offered loads of them within the US.
Michigan radio interviewed the press relations professional at VW, Christian Buhlmann, just a few years in the past when the California first debuted and right here’s what he needed to say about preserving the van out of the US:
“It’s both love ’em or hate ’em. Individuals who these days nonetheless drive a T2, T3, T4, you title ‘em – these vans that we used to have till the 2000s – most of them are fanatics that run these autos in good climate circumstances. These are people who find themselves hardcore followers for this phase, however they’re simply too few to justify making a brand new model of this just for this market.
“The second downside is presently we make these vans in Europe, and even with the rising greenback and weaker Euro share, it isn’t sufficient models to make up for an inexpensive value. We’re promoting vans, very well-equipped vans with four-wheel-drive, with kitchenette, with the whole lot that you really want for costs of $50,000 and up, which isn’t the place the market right here is, or the place the tenting market is. There may be an RV market, true, however these RVs are a lot bigger in dimension than what we presently supply.
“Let’s say you’re taking your common camper van and also you’re going to Italy, take a U.S. van, you wouldn’t be capable of entry all these little alleys, these streets that they’ve – you’d be caught.
So that you want one thing compact in an effort to get the place you need to go. Over right here, the place the whole lot is accessible, even for giant RVs, there may be simply not this demand. Subsequently, individuals within the majority would moderately go for one thing larger, in the event that they’re in search of RVs.”
Buhlmann went on to clarify that VW is conscious individuals love vans within the US, however they’d have to promote 200,000 models to make it worthwhile, economically. Due to their small market share, VW doesn’t assume they will do it. Ford can promote boatloads of Transit vans, for instance, however they’re one of many Large Three, to allow them to promote a ton of something they make. VW must be extra selective.
So, we get the, uh, Tiguan. Europe will get the California. Nice.
Nicely, California vans have sometimes been noticed within the US, so perhaps, simply perhaps some enterprising van lover can get their palms on one. Or simply transfer to Europe. Within the meantime, VW is promising the electrical new bus, the “ID Buzz” will hit US sellers in 2022.
The parents at Jalopnik did a pleasant walkaround of final 12 months’s mannequin that’s extra illustrative of what this van can do than the inventory VW photographs above. Test it out under.