Volkswagen started off the whole van thing with the Microbus back in the 1950s. Then, it created the camper van. Both were good sellers in the US. Today, Ford sells almost 150,000 Transit vans in the US alone. So, why can’t the US get the Volkswagen T6.1 California van? The name of one of America’s states is even in its name. Volkswagen even had a press launch of the T6.1 for the world in California. What’s going on?
Did Dodge sell the Monaco in Monaco? Yes. Did Chevy sell the Malibu in Malibu? Of course. Did Pontiac sell the Catalina on Catalina Island? Well, no because cars and trucks aren’t allowed on the island. But that’s not the point. If they were allowed Pontiac would have sold them there.
The great features that come with the Volkswagen camper van
The T6.1 version of the California van is an updated T6. Volkswagen has added a touchscreen control system for camper functions in the van. That includes popping the top, starting the auxiliary diesel-powered heater, the cabin lighting, refrigerator, timer, alarm clock, and a few more things. Neat, huh?
But there’s more since it is a camper. You get stove-top burners run on propane, a water tank for the sink and cold-water shower in the rear, two folding tables, an awning, a rear bench seat that transforms into a bed. There is also a bed situated in the pop-top. If you don’t need it you can remove it for some added headroom. Both are about the size of a queen bed, so nothing is cramped.
The camper van has three batteries-two for accessories
The stylish brick is propelled by a 201 hp 2.0-liter engine with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic hung on the back. With two batteries just for accessories, the California camper can keep everything humming for 37 hours. A third, separate battery provides that even if you drain those two you can still start up the camper without a concern. You can even order one with all-wheel-drive. That is unless you live in the US.
For 2020 VW has also cleaned up the front end and made a few other changes to create the T6.1 version of the California camper.
You can use it as a camping van just like the old VW Westfalia with the pop-up tops. It has that too. Or you can just use it as transportation, unlike a tent or camping trailer. So why buy one of those when you can use your camper as a daily?
Volkswagen has been building these camper vans so long they really have it figured out
VW has been building these campers so long it has really figured out how to make them clever, dependable, and unique. They’re not bad-looking either. Can you argue it looks better (or worse) than an SUV? You could, but why would you argue that any SUV looks good?
We know there are some great camping spots in and around Europe, but have you noticed how many foreign visitors there are when you visit Yosemite? Or Mt. Rushmore? Right, there are a bunch of them. So, if there are so many Europeans coming to the US to camp at these nectar US spots why doesn’t VW offer the best vehicle for visiting these superior camping destinations? If they weren’t better these European visitors would have just taken a vacation at home.
The French Alps in France, the Black Forest in Germany, Start Bay in England; these are all wonderful places to camp. But Volkswagen didn’t call its T6.1 “Black Forest.” It’s called “California.”
There’s always a downside, and that might be its price
There’s always a downside, so let’s get to it. If this were sold here the price for a stripper would be around $50,000. With a few of the better options, you’re at $65,000. It can go up to $100,000 before the options thin out. So, this wouldn’t be some $20,000 Transit with a mattress a cooler in the back. It is an expensive trailer for sure.
VW sold 18,000 of these last year in Europe. Considering the population of the US and disposable income floating around, we don’t see why VW couldn’t sell that many here. Don’t forget that every one it sold here is pure profit because it never amortized US sales into the cost of development. That’s because it didn’t plan on selling it here.
And, it still doesn’t. Don’t expect to ever see one here. The ID Buzz electric microbus will be the closest thing to a California Camper. Which won’t be close at all. But who knows, in its pursuit of sales and profits, if VW thinks it can sell a few here maybe that in itself will change the picture to include a VW California actually sold in California.