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19 September 2006

Short Take: Volkswagen’s commercial truck division struts its stuff by showcasing an all-wheel-drive version of their Crafter commercial van (think Sprinter and you have the size down) at the Frankfurt Truck Show this week.

Our Take: VW facelifted their Crafter commercial van this year and it looks far more aggressive and a lot less plain vanilla. The Crafter competes with the Sprinter in Europe in terms of size and features so that should give you an idea regarding its size. Like the Sprinter it is sold in an array of different configurations as well with gas or diesel options with standard and extended wheelbase models. This concept is purely a design exercise at this point but it sure looks good to our eyes. Put a decent TDI engine in it, give it some towing capacity and we’d have a great show/race hauler. Too bad it isn’t sold here alongside the Sprinter as we think it looks much cooler to boot.

Volkswagen AG Press Release:

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Hanover, 19th September 2006. The Volkswagen Crafter can do more, as the concept vehicle Atacama proves. The Design Center in Wolfsburg have developed a striking off-road vehicle based on the standard Transporter and named it after the Atacama desert in South America.

“The Atacama concept is a fresh and modern interpretation of a four-wheel drive Crafter, it combines function and individuality”, says the team head and exterior designer Ralf Dekena when describing the vehicle study. The design study gains its striking presence through its proportions. The front end, with slight modifications and the aluminium components such as the radiator, headlights or air vents, has a top quality appearance and also seems more powerful and masculine with the metallic design. The side air inlets in the wings emphasise this and lend the Atacama a sporty finish.

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For protection in off-road use, the vehicle has been equipped with robust panelling and powerfully modelled wheel arches. Aluminium inserts emphasise this robustness and give the Atacama a more exclusive appearance. Offsets and stamps are repeated thematically on the wheel arches and add a certain lightness to the panelling.

The unique side window design demonstrates the integration of exterior and interior. The side window design both relaxes and extends the lines on the side of the Atacama and makes interesting applications for the interior possible. The wedge in the panes can be used as an assembly and securing point for a functional interior, for stowage purposes for example, or as securing points for an upper sleeping level. The designer responsible, Romain Chareyre, explains: “The design study shows further potential for the Crafter in the leisure and fun segment”.

The roof railing formed in a U-shape with integrated box is a modern interpretation of a carrier system. To match this element, the team designed the rear ladder which frames the brand logo in its shape and also has the door handle integrated in it.

The member of the Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles board of management with responsibility for Sales, Harald Schomburg, is very enthusiastic: “The absolute highlight of the Crafter presentation is the concept vehicle Atacama with four-wheel drive application by Achleitner. It emphasises the strikingly masculine features of the vehicle and is our idea of a Crafter off-road vehicle. I’m very curious about the customer reaction – if it is positive we will build a series of up to 100 vehicles.” In this context, he praises the Design Center Wolfsburg, and its head Klaus Bischof, project manager Lars Menge and the designers Ralf Dekena, Romain Chareyre and Susanne Gerken for the successful concept.



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