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End of the line for iconic Kombi

Automotive icon: Production of the Volkswagen Kombi in Brazil will end after 63 years due to the introduction of strict new safety laws in the South American country.

Volkswagen has finally ended production of the Kombi van in Brazil after 63 years

26 Oct 2012

THE end of an era is about to come for the iconic Volkswagen Kombi, with news that the German car-maker will finally cease production of the much-loved people-mover by the end of next year.

Car and Driver magazine has reported that the final examples of the Kombi will be built at Volkswagen of Brazil’s Sao Bernardo del Campo factory at the end of 2013.

The demise of the Kombi marks a 63-year lifespan for the vehicle, having commenced production in Germany in 1950.

Volkswagen has sold the Kombi in Brazil since 1957 and the current iteration is based on phase 2 of the T2 model that was built in Germany between 1967 and 1979.

The end of Kombi production comes after stricter safety standards were introduced in Brazil requiring any new vehicles sold after 1 January 2014 to be fitted with dual front airbags and anti-lock brakes.

The current Brazilian-spec Kombi features a very prominent grille after VW switched from the traditional air-cooled rear engine to a water-cooled 1.4-litre engine a few years ago.

3 center imageFrom top: Volkswagen Microbus and Bulli concepts.

Volkswagen’s product development manager for Brazil, Egon Feichter, told Autocar in the UK that the Kombi would have to become “a new car” to comply with the new laws.

The Kombi is not the only old Volkswagen model to be continually sold since its introduction, with the first generation Golf only ceasing production in South Africa in 2009.

An older version of the Passat that still sells in China is about to be replaced shortly.

Volkswagen has flirted with a Kombi replacement on a number of occasions, with the Microbus concept from the 2001 Detroit auto show previewing a possible successor that never made it to production.

More recently was the Bulli concept that appeared at the 2011 Geneva motor show.

Car and Driver reported that the head of Volkswagen Brazil, Thomas Schmall, said the Bulli was more of a design exercise and is no longer a priority for Volkswagen, but the company is still keen to fill the gap in that segment to cater to “cost-conscious business owners.”

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