VW to Introduce All-Electric, Long-Range Microbus

Can we get a ‘hallelujah’? Range is up to 310 miles and production is supposed to start in 2017.


Can Volkswagen rebuild the trust that was lost over its emissions-cheating scandal? Time will tell. Maybe in the short term, distraction is good enough, and the new model that VW is set to reveal at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas next month will be one heck of a distraction: It’s going to be an all-electric microbus van, with a range of up to 310 miles, Autocar reports.

The van, called Camper, will be announced during the January 5 keynote address by Herbert Diess, head of passenger cars for Volkswagen.

The vehicle was confirmed by Gary Shapiro, whose company produces CES. “We are pleased Volkswagen will use the CES stage to unveil a concept car displaying its latest developments in safe and energy-efficient electric vehicles consistent with VW’s long history of innovation in the driving experience.”

Shapiro said the van is a “groundbreaking electric vehicle that will further illustrate the synergy between the Internet of Things and the automotive industry,”

Will it look like the blue concept van pictured above? Or more like the red one pictured below? A Volkswagen spokesman told Autocar that the van will strongly resemble the original bus, keeping in mind three important design cues. “First the wide, solid, D-pillar, second the boxy design of the centre section and, thirdly, the front end must have a very short overhang. The distance from the A-pillar to the front end must be very short.”

The van will be front wheel drive, with a small motor up front and battery packs under the floor. Sorry, folks, it’s not a replacement for the Syncro. But with a battery system based on the 2016 Audi R8 e-tron sports car and e-tron Quattro Concept SUV, its range of 250 to 300 miles would top everything currently available in the States except for Teslas.

VW plans to build the Camper in Mexico beginning in 2017, and there will be a four-cylinder gasoline version and a diesel version, too. At least, we can hope. In 2001, Volkswagen announced a new microbus would be available in 2003. It missed that target date and two years later the company pulled the plug on the program.

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Steve Casimiro is the editor of Adventure Journal.
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Showing 60 comments
  • nick
    Reply

    The only sense introducing this van in an electric format makes is mass transportation in relatively short commutes; this will be great but probably expensive van pools. As for traveling enthusiasts (who have been waiting for this bus since the death of the Eurovan here in the US in 2003-4), this will be absolutely worthless unless you plan on road tripping and camping within 100 miles of your home (100 there, 100 back, and the remainder to charge all your gadgets while there).
    I guess I won’t be satisfied until they introduce a TDI version.

    • Tony
      Reply

      Do you have experience driving an electric vehicle? Charging gadgets will not drain 100 miles off your battery unless you are operating a vitamix out of your cigarette lighter non-stop or running the air conditioning excessively… With quick chargers popping up all over the place, stopping for 30 minutes to get your vehicle back up to 80% isn’t so bad (assuming this vehicle would be equipped with that).

      I do agree that this vehicle would be a great “short trip” carpool type vehicle, but I also think it will work well for most other people who buy vans for hauling children around and making trips to the grocery store or heading over to the beach with a bunch of friends. In the end of the day, 300 miles is solid range and cross country or state trips can be done with some planning. This is the inevitable future of vehicles, and It only gets better from here… Got to give it up to VW for taking the leap on another electric vehicle.

      • Rachel
        Reply

        I agree completely, Tony. 300 miles is perfect for me and my family– we live in New England, and we usually camp within 100-200 miles of home.

      • Seasoned VW Owner
        Reply

        A bus, a Westfalia Van and half a dozen bugs… this is exciting news..Love
        Well I am experienced with electric vehicles and it doesn’t take an electrical engineer to realize when you are camping inevitably you will lose a big bite out of the 300 mile battery storage. Living in Arizona air conditioning is mandatory. Which places me firmly in the TDI group, and seriously doubt VW will hurt long with their emissions challenge. Quite frankly it’s hilarious that VW pulled that off right under the noses of the EPA for so long. Can you believe we haven’t all suffocated and died? For one to buy into the idea that “the inevitable future of vehicles” is electric shows how naïve people are. We’ll be using fossil fuels for years to come. When one considers the failure and inefficiency alternative energy posses you will soon discover the only people benefitting from the EPA are special interest groups, and it has given them ultimate control of our freedoms. God Bless Ferdinand Porches.

      • John
        Reply

        If you read the article, it says they’ll make it in gas and diesel versions

      • Lou
        Reply

        Totally agree. 300 miles range is the most among electric vehicles, even better than Tesla. With careful planning one can go almost any place. I definitely will get one.

    • DrS
      Reply

      I go skiing a lot, go out to bag peaks,fish, ect., overnights all over the state of Colorado. I probably do more than 300 miles round trip (roughly Boulder to Steamboat) once or twice a season.

      I couldn’t afford this, but if my girlfriend and I could have one gasoline vehicle and one electric with a 300 mile range, I am sure we’d use the electric 90% of the time, including out of town adventures.

      If you live more than 100 miles from most of the recreation you want to do, you live in the wrong place.

    • Tom Moore
      Reply

      It doesn’t sound like you are aware of fast DC charging, which is done at rates up to 120 kW and perhaps higher, corresponding to about 400 miles per hour, which is compatible with typical pit stops with a meal every 4 hours of travel. I’m hoping VW will be required to pitch in toward the required infrastructure to make this available on every highway, as part of their penalty for cheating on their diesel emissions. When it is as easy to find a fast charger on the highway as it is to find a gas station, we’ll be free of gas and oil, once and for all.

    • No Sun Beach
      Reply

      I’m very interested, but if they don’t understand how owners will use the van then they will miss the mark completely on some VERY important features…

      Interior space needs to be very flexible allow owner to work and sleep comfortably inside.

      EV needs to offer an overnight sleep mode where you can run the AC or Heater overnight for less than 10% of battery life and no other lights on.

      Charger mode needs to allow owner use power from wall first while charging.

      I would use it to camp on the beach and sleep in rest stops.

  • Steve Casimiro
    Reply

    Sorry for the confusions, guys. In the story it says that we don’t yet know what it will look like. Will it look like blue concept version? The red? Or something else entirely.

  • Roger Christie
    Reply

    Aloha. Sounds and looks promising. But where are the solar panels on the roof for continuous day-time charging? Westphalia? What’s YOUR version gonna look like? :-)

    Happy Holidays to one and all,

    Roger and Share Christie

    http://www.the-last-marijuana-trial.com

    • Richard
      Reply

      Alas, the math just doesn’t work. Let’s say they put a 30″x60″ 200W solar panel on the roof. If the sun beat STRAIGHT down on it 24 hours a day, it would take around 2 WEEKS to fully charge the car’s battery.

      An electric car uses as much electricity in 2 hours of driving at 60mph as your entire house uses in a day. Even if solar panels were 100% efficient (right now, 15-17% is about average), they would only produce 2% of what your car needs to travel at that speed continuously.

  • Brian S
    Reply

    I’ll take one in TDi. All electric, no thanks.

  • Mark
    Reply

    fins in the front, man.

    • nick
      Reply

      and that board must be bonded to the racks with some space grade adhesive ’cause there is no straps.

      • EchoTony
        Reply

        The rocker matches the roof line perfectly. I find that somewhat questionable.

        For a surf car, this is about as prefect as could be. Most runs are 10 miles or less, with some searches going 50-70 miles. A jump down to Baja is only 50 miles each way… Doesn’t cut it for our drives to Mammoth though. The TDi would be needed for that… or better, a TDi hybrid (Hello VW?).

  • Dan Murphy
    Reply

    My ’08 Honda Element will need to be retired in a few years. If Honda still made them, I’d get another one. I’m not sure what I’d get if I had to buy a car today. In a few years, a VW bus could be a good option, though not an electric one. The utility of a box car is way up there for me. We’ll see what happens.

  • Eurotrash
    Reply

    Probably a four seater based ont he UP line ov vehicles, like the red one pictured.. Being a Tansporter/Eurovan owner for three consecutive vans since 2002, Not having a 7 passenger van would be terribly disappointing..

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volkswagen_Up

  • tim
    Reply

    If it’s like every other VW we’ve ever owned (stopped counting at seven), it will start having electrical problems at about 60,000 miles. That doesn’t bode well for an all electric vehicle.

  • j beigh
    Reply

    I’m betting the one mentioned here in AJ is NOT this one:

    http://www.carscoops.com/2015/06/new-vw-t6-based-california-camper-van.html

    My bet is the one featured in my provided link will be available anywhere but the USA, sort of akin to the burly Toyota diesel quad cabs that are apparently only available to hash-smoking patriot/zealot insurgents in the mid-east…

    Must as I maligned and cursed my air-cooled quiver- 63 Ghia, multiple pre-injector squarebacks, and a 1974 type two US (coleman) pop-top— I swear I pushed and towed them as many miles as I drove ’em- I still own a VeeWee today.

    After the TDI fiasco, my trust is a bit shaken. My big concern of the vans shown here? No pop-top, or head-room to stand up inside. Dwarf that I am, I still value standing upright and cooking/ brewing up in inclement weather.

    Can’t wait to see what rolls out, and at what price point…

    • Ron Moss
      Reply

      I have owned 15 VWs: 6 Bugs from ’55 to ’69, 5 Vans from ’66 Westy to ’93 Eurovan, 3 Jettas from ’86 to ’95, 67 Sqrback, and ’62 Porsche 356, most of which had many more than 60k miles. The only electrical issue I have had is replacing a voltage regulator. All had orig coils, generators, distributors, and wiring harnesses. Guess it pays to be lucky!

  • Kirby Tipple
    Reply

    Round headlights PLEASE!

  • Ben
    Reply

    Diesel, too? Come on VW, it’s time to give up on diesel. That stuff has given you enough headaches.

  • Jo H
    Reply

    I travel to see my family 1500 miles away in the summer. If this truly is a van I could bed down in at night, I could handle the stops to “refuel” as I never go more than 300 or 400 miles a day (I am OLD). I hate the hotel thing but had no options. So if it truly is a “camper” in the sense of a van you can sleep in, YAY. Of course it depends on the cost of it. But I will be interested in seeing that in the end.

  • Kelly
    Reply

    Add the pop up camper top and I’ll buy it!

  • Tim
    Reply

    4wd? Please, please please!

  • Nick
    Reply

    300 mile range on level terrain does not apply in mountainous terrain. For camping use it needs an auxiliary generator to recharge the battery pack.

  • Ryan
    Reply

    Stop all the teasing and just build the damn thing!

  • Fred Persily
    Reply

    Have a RAV4 Electric with Tesla batteries. Except on cold days or very hot days we get about 100 miles. 200+ would be fantastic. We use our prius for long trips but it is not nearly as good as the RAV. Miles is the issue. We have come home with only a couple of miles left more times than I care to think about. Looks like a small van, not a camper to me. I’m guessing it will look more like the one with the California plates.

  • Marc
    Reply

    This looks very cool and that’s what I need for my travels. Can’t wait to see how it looks like.

  • Serge
    Reply

    Too good to be true, an electric Wesfalia. I owned a Vanagon for 4 years and the week points were the engine and the propane fridge and heater. Being electric would be ideal, you drive 4 hours, stop for a quick recharge and lunch, and then drive another 4 hours. Repeat as necessary

  • TJ
    Reply

    hopefully it can charge with RV hook ups, thatll be worth it.

  • Lea
    Reply

    I love the concept, but I don’t think a van like this could take me to real camping destinations. I have a hard time picturing this van with it’s small motor, engine, and tires on a real adventure on gravel roads, climbing hills, and driving through mud. Camping in a city park, maybe.

    • Mike
      Reply

      Electric Motors for offroad are amazing – you get the same torque right through the rev range, from zero revs. So, with adjustable suspension, and some chunkier tyres, you’d have quite a capable van.

  • DN
    Reply

    Why not add a small engine to trickle charge the batteries as you drive? There will be room to add one and means you could drive a lot further….or manage to get up the hills – it is a camper van!

  • Nathan Able
    Reply

    No one cares about this: “Can Volkswagen rebuild the trust that was lost over its emissions-cheating scandal?” More like they’re clever and I wish I would have bought a Volkswagen at the time.

  • chris
    Reply

    If it can’t do 500 miles it’s a no go,and ya where o where is the camper. No pop-up no way.

  • Diane Kerkman
    Reply

    Your engineer’s are way overpaid to produce this. Please bring back the 73 popup on the floor stick. Work on perfecting that. Increase power.

  • Iris
    Reply

    I agree Kevin. The concept photos appear to be “passenger” type vans, not “camper” vans. Disappointing.

  • L K
    Reply

    Yaaaay! We have been waiting for just such a vehicle. Anxious to see details on the “camper” parts. Hoping for a gas version, tho, for you truly want to camp, you will not be near a charging unit. Thank You so much for working on this..

  • Bill
    Reply

    Hey VW how about a diesel hybrid? All-electric, no. TDI, yes. TDI hybrid, maybe.
    Keep cheating the EPA. We love it!!

  • Clayton
    Reply

    Ummmm 310 miles is NOT long range. As a matter of fact it’s no better than Nissan’s leaf. No thanks.

  • VoltOwner
    Reply

    When VW decides to offer it with a built in range extender like my Volt, I may consider it. DCFC stations are few and far between once you leave the urban areas where they are being installed, having a gas or diesel backup would mean a lot less anxiety out in the boonies. Even if the front wheels were EV and the rear ones were ICE, I’d be tempted, but 4-wheel EV is so simple…

    Oh, and they need to make a pickup version like the ’60 transporter I had. Took that thing places usually only 4-wheelers would venture.

    • Chinook11
      Reply

      Wrong. Its 3 X what the Nissan Leaf can do. 310 miles is great for todays EV. In 5 years, it’ll be laughable, but for now it’s excellent.

  • Micheal
    Reply

    This would be great to take the kids back and forth to school and pick up and deliveries locally for small business

  • David Woodruff
    Reply

    I own a 2016 VW eGolf and love it. Perhaps when my else is up I will trade it in for one of these. Goodbye range anxiety!

  • Stacy
    Reply

    All electric with such a short range makes me nervous. I can make a 600 mile round trip with a single fill up in my Mini. However, I’ve always loved VW vans and am very excited to see the final product! I don’t even camp just haul around art supplies and items to sell at shoes. I could really use a vehicle with interior room such as this!

  • mk-j
    Reply

    As long as there is at least a version of this with 3 very accessible rows of seats even with numerous child seats in place, this could be a big hit.

  • Lateris
    Reply

    Would the summers of Az kill the mileage because you need the AC on all the time. Plus I did own a 2003 Jetta that was built at the factory that they plan to build these at that was a lemon. How really dependable is that factory specific now ?

  • Zach
    Reply

    But won’t this cost $80k?

  • Samule
    Reply

    Just carry a portable generator and a gas tank. Charge while you camp.

  • T
    Reply

    We’ve been driving the all electric Ford Focus for a few years now and love it. Now that we are a family of 4 (toddler + newborn), we’re yearning for an all electric family-sized vehicle. My husband has been a VW Van fan forever. We’re looking forward to the release of this EV!

  • Howard
    Reply

    Call it the Jam Van, and trust fund tour rats everywhere will buy one.

  • Greywolf
    Reply

    1. Space?
    2. TDI: three pedals, please?

  • CDL
    Reply

    Not sure if anyone else mentioned this, but why can’t the Camper be designed to charge at the campground using the same RV outlets that run the 50-footer’s TVs and refrigerators? Seems simple enough for an all-electric camper. Also, I agree with others about wanting a pop-up bed and full kitchen.

    Can’t wait!

  • Michael
    Reply

    Trips aside, 300 miles is about a week of driving for me. Buy.

  • Sam
    Reply

    Have they sorted out the heat problem all three of my Westys had? In the camper version I would like to see a tent attachment to the side of the van, and an extra tent bed room extension off the rear of the vehicle.
    The stove should be able to cook inside and outside the van with a swivel stove.

  • Mark
    Reply

    I so hope this comes off. In the uk there are charging points in many service stations on the motorways and in towns and you can get an 80% charge in 30 minutes. Many campsites offer electric hook up so an overnight charge should juice you up again with a bit of careful planning a week long road trip is workable and probably would be in much of europe. Can I put a request in for round led headlamps at the front though please.

  • Jessica
    Reply

    Assuming by the fact that I own an electric scooter which doesn’t give more than 100 miles, I am guessing it should probably offer something around 250 -300 miles depending on the horsepower of its engine. This can be great if we are probably traveling for a short trips. I would not consider it for longer trips though.

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