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Volkswagen camper van set for electric revamp

The iconic Volkswagen camper van may be getting a super-charged new design and entering the world of electric vehicles.

The Volkswagen Bulli concept - said to be an influence on the design of a new electric vehicle from Volkswagen

The Volkswagen Bulli concept - said to be an influence on the design of a new electric vehicle from Volkswagen

Speaking at the New York motor show, Volkswagen board member Dr Heinz-Jakob Neusser revealed that he believes the classic Volkswagen camper van could be eligible for revival with one key point of difference: it would be powered by electricity.

In a discussion with Autocar, Neusser explained plans for a successor to the Kombi that could draw on influences from the Bulli concept showcased at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show. This follows the electrification of the Volkswagen Up!

It seems engineers and designers could already be at work on an all-electric prototype, and it’s easy to see why the electric approach would be taken. For starters, the camper’s signature boxy shape could be preserved or even accentuated without the need for a cumbersome engine to stow under the bonnet.

The 50s-style mobile home has always held kitsch allure for retro enthusiasts, and the brand has long enjoyed iconic status, with many models being customised. Accordingly, Volkswagen camper vans have become increasingly collectable. The best examples and rare models can sell for upwards of £25,000.

It is hoped that the feature that has garnered the Volkswagen Campervan such standing – its gloriously quirky design – will be preserved to inspire the next generation of camping enthusiasts and festivalgoers.

Fun Volkswagen camper facts:

  • The first Volkswagen motorhome design was revealed in 1949 at the Geneva Motor show and is known as the ‘splitty’ due to its split-window design. When it first came out, the Volkswagen campervan cost between £850 - £1,300, and its maximum speed was just 65 mph!

  • Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver once famously owned a Volkswagen camper van, a 23-window, blue and white Samba kitted out with a Porsche engine and cooling system. He sold it in 2007, and it fetched £47,000 at auction. Other celebrity Volkswagen camper van owners include Jenson Button, Jo Whiley and Richard Hammond.

  • According to statistics from Danbury Motor Caravans, the most desirable colours for a Volkswagen camper van are light blue, light green, black and red, respectively. On the other end of the scale, beige, white and silver are least popular.

  • The last ever Volkswagen Kombi came off the production line in Brazil in 2013. The model was discontinued, as it was no longer compliant with safety laws requiring mandatory airbags and ABS to be fitted to vehicles.

  • The hippy-chic design of the Volkswagen camper van has inspired a range of collectables, from keyrings, mugs and china models to its very own Lego model, replete with safari windshield and pop-up roof.

About the Author

Kirsty Leckie-Palmer

Staff writer at Arnold Clark