Here's an article from today's SPIEGEL news service: http://www.spiegel.de/auto/akt....html
Sorry, it's in German....
The gist is:
" The largest market for the Microbus would have been the US. However the van would have been manufactured in Germany. Due to the weak US$ the van would have been to expensive for the target market.
VW is now planning to build a new van on top of the T5 chassis with less retro design that would be more appealing to European customers and therefore have a larger market."
It's just as well. I think it would have been a sales flop here anyway. It's ugly, doesn't look like a retro version of the original (the original didn't have squinty headlamps) and minivans aren't the rage anymore.
Odd that they're talking about another T5 based vehicle for Europe though to appeal to Europeans. They already have a T5 that appeals to Europeans...the T5!
VW to revamp Microbus, delay its start
Reuters / May 19, 2004
FRANKFURT -- Volkswagen AG is redesigning its new Microbus to cast a wider net than the targeted U.S. market, VW said Wednesday, delaying the start of production a year to 2007.
"The new approach to the model came about because focusing solely on the U.S. market would have jeopardized the success of the model given the still unfavorable exchange rate and market conditions," VW said in a statement.
The revamped design calls for sharing more parts with VW's new T5 transporter, which will cut costs.
VW aims to create 1,500 jobs to assemble the Microbus in Hanover, Germany.
Yes and no. It's not the same vehicle as planned and just delayed longer. It's basically going back to the drawing board. Sounds like it's going to be a closer cousin of the T5 than originally planned.
What that means...who knows. Could be anywhere from a US-legal T5 with a "Eurovan" badge on it (yeah right...wouldn't that be nice!) or a T5 with significantly redesigned interior and nose/tail or totally different body altogether attached to the same T5 chassis.
heres the official press release, posted courtesy of "robatoguy" on the vanagon list this afternoon:
19 May 2004
VOLKSWAGEN GEARS MICROBUS TO INTERNATIONAL MARKETS
Production starts in Hanover in 2007
WOLFSBURG/HANOVER, Germany - The Board of Management of Volkswagen AG decided on Tuesday evening to change the concept for the planned Microbus. The new model with its innovative design is scheduled to go into production in Hanover in 2007 and will not only aim for the US market but will also be geared to other markets.
The original concept that was considered for production was to be based on Volkswagen’s Microbus design study that was first shown at the 2001 Detroit Auto Show. This original concept version is no longer being considered according to the decision from the Board of Management yesterday.
With the decision, the Board of Management under the chairmanship of Dr. Bernd Pischetsrieder has made a commitment to the Hanover plant and the planned Microbus production. The model is being given a new orientation since an exclusive focus on the US market would have jeopardized the success of the Microbus, particularly in view of the continuing unfavorable exchange rates and market conditions. Pischetsrieder emphasized: “Our decision secures worldwide success for the Microbus.”
The new Microbus will be built in Hanover from 2007 based on the modular strategy principle. A larger number of components from the new T5 will be used than foreseen by the original design. This will result in noticeably greater synergy effects. The design will be characterized by an emotional styling language and an ambitious space concept.
Following an intensive dialogue between the Board of Management and labor representatives at Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, both sides agreed that Volkswagen will continue with the planned implementation of the 5000 x 5000 collective bargaining model in Hanover in spite of the delay in production start-up. This was underscored by Dr. Peter Hartz, Member of the Board of Management for Human Resources, on Wednesday. On the basis of present plans, 1,500 new jobs will be created in Hanover to produce the Microbus under the innovative collective agreement.
so basically, the concept Microbus you all have been seeing the past few years, will be no more. the same "Microbus" name will be used, but the concept will be totally redesigned and geared towards international markets - countries where they actually use vans for carrying people/cargo - not just "dvd players"....and it will be geared towards the T5 chassis (bigger) as folks have said above.
i am glad to see vw is redesigning it. hope it looks totally different..
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