GO
GoAutoLogo
MENU

Make / Model Search

Future models - Volkswagen - Transporter - T5 California

Volkswagen enters unknown (lifestyle) territory

Adventurer: Volkswagen's T5 California, due on sale here in late 2006.

Volkswagen’s move into lifestyle and motor home vehicles is unknown territory

8 Jun 2006

VOLKSWAGEN Group Australia (VGA) is describing its moves into the camper and motor home market as ‘new territory’ for it. Late last month VGA released "lifestyle" variants of two key models.

The new Caddy Life’s range-topper is the Camper (known as the Tramper in Europe – a name rejected for Australia). Priced from $39,990, the Camper is a five-seater wagon version of the seven-seater people mover, featuring a bed, tent, chairs and a table, among other ‘getaway’ items.

It is powered by the larger of the two engines available for the Caddy Life, the 77kW/250Nm 1.9-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel TDI, mated to either a five-speed manual or, for $3000 more, a DSG dual-clutch automatic gearbox.

"We are looking to form a niche market for it," a VGA spokesman said.

The company also released the Kombi Beach at the same time.

Despite the van-based Kombi name, the Beach is actually based on the T5 Transporter-based Multivan people mover body that features floor and wall rails for sliding-seat, table and bed permutations.

Elsewhere it is known by its more-correct Multivan Beach name, but VGA somehow convinced a sceptical Germany of the Kombi name’s heritage and goodwill in Australia.

Australia is also the first market in the world to offer it.

The Kombi Beach introduces a new 96kW/340Nm version of Volkswagen’s 2.5-litre five-cylinder turbo-diesel engine, mated to a six-speed manual or Tiptronic automatic gearbox, with the former also available in 4Motion part-time 4WD.

The four-seater Kombi Beach is chasing a similar lifestyle market to the Camper by offering a bed, curtains and other such accoutrements, although it is also billed as a ‘work-week tool/weekend pleasure’ dual-purpose vehicle.

VGA is only importing 100 Kombi Beaches, to test the waters.

It will be followed at the end of the year by the T5 California, a motor home version of the Beach, featuring a kitchen and a raised roof.

"One of the big differences for (Volkswagen) between the Beach and California concepts is that (no vehicle manufacturer) has done it," enthuses VGA commercial vehicle director Phillip Clark.

"(No vehicle manufacturer) has sought Australian Design Rule (ADR) compliance or gas-appliance approval, which must be done. So there is no precedent." While Volkswagen is seeking ADR approval, a number of aftermarket motor home suppliers already have full ADR approval for several of their vehicles.

Trakka, for instance, offers two Volkswagen T5-based models that have all the necessary certifications.

Mr Clark says VGA was spurred by the "very positive" reaction to the California concept prototype at the most recent Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane motor shows.

Volkswagen is also investigating the possibility of a motor home version of its upcoming Crafter, a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter-sized commercial vehicle that replaces the ageing LT range early next year.

VGA is confident of receiving Crafter models built to exact specifications for Australia, because it has come at the beginning of the new vehicle’s lifecycle.

When Volkswagen AG took over distribution of its vehicle in Australia in 2001 the LT was nearing the end of its run.

"It was extremely difficult to convince the factory (Volkswagen in Germany) to put money into the ADR into the LT," Mr Clark says.

"(Now) it is a lot easier for homologation because Volkswagen knows it can get eight or nine years out of their ADR investments," reveals Mr Clark.

However just how many Crafter, California, Kombi Beach and Caddy Life Camper sales this will translate into is a guessing game for VGA.

"We have nothing to compare it with," Mr Clark admits.

"In Australia the motor home/recreation market does not record registrations, so it is difficult to say that you will sell 200, 300 or 400 units each year," Mr Clark believes.

"It’s a matter of putting a realistic spin. The next three months will reveal this." "This whole motor home segment is exciting, since nobody in the industry knows – or is willing to give out figures to protect their turf – to what the size of the market will be." Mr Clark is hopeful that the rental agencies will get behind the new-wave lifestyle Volkswagens, suggesting companies such as KEA, Maui and Britz.

"It’s a huge business," he says.

The Road to Recovery podcast series


All future models

Transporter pricing

Motor industry news

GoAutoNews is Australia’s number one automotive industry journal covering the latest news, future and new model releases, market trends, industry personnel movements, and international events.

Click to share

Click below to follow us on
Facebook  Twitter  Instagram

Volkswagen models

All future models

Transporter pricing

Motor industry news

GoAutoNews is Australia’s number one automotive industry journal covering the latest news, future and new model releases, market trends, industry personnel movements, and international events.

Catch up on all of the latest industry news with this week's edition of GoAutoNews
Click here