End of the Road for Volkswagen Kombi

The classic Volkswagen Kombi is set to cease production next year, ending some 63 years of continuous production.

The last Volkswagen Kombi will be built on December 31, 2013. (Source: autocar.co.uk)

The Kombi, or VW T2 as it is known in Brazil, the only country where it is still produced, will be forced out of production due to new safety legislation coming into force in South America’s largest country, reports Autocar.

To comply with the new Brazilian market legislation coming into effect on January 1, 2014, all new vehicles must come with anti-lock brakes and dual front airbags as standard, meaning an end to the production of the more simplistic Volkswagen Kombi.

VW’s product development chief for Brazil, Egon Feichter, told Autocar that to comply with the new legislation, the Kombi would need to become “a new car”.

It is likely the last Kombi models will be built on December 31 2013, a full 63 years after the nine-seater first went on sale in 1950.

Feichter confirmed that it was only the new safety laws that prevented the Kombi from still being built, as it conforms to every emission regulation needed for new car markets in South America where it is still sold.

The new safety legislation is only for Brazil, but its position as the largest new car market in South America by some distance means it’s not financially feasible to continue with Kombi production.

Some 251 Kombis are still produced everyday at VW’s main Anchieta factory for South America in Sao Paulo.

Replacing the Kombi with a like-for-like model would be almost impossible, as “you can get two Kombis for the price of one normal car,” Feichter told Autocar.

The Volkswagen Kombi has been in production for 63 years. (Source: caravantimes.co.uk)

Volkswagen will continue to make the VW California, the latest incarnation of this 1960s, Volkswagen camper vans which was launched in 2001.

There are many companies out there that renovate old campers, but the California is the only one built and sold wholly by Volkswagen.

The company also has plans to launch a new compact Caddy van in 2013, reports Caravan Times.

Worth Pondering…

A man does what he must in spite of personal consequences, in spite of obstacles and dangers and pressures, and that is the basis of all morality.

—John Fitzpatrick Kennedy

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What do Sharks and the Volkswagen Beetle Have in Common?

Since 1988, Discovery Channel has aired a week-long series of feature television programs dedicated to sharks, usually running in July or August.

How do you work the VW Beetle into Shark Week? With a wireframe Beetle shark cage, of course! (Source: autoblog.com)

Volkswagen plans to take a big bite out of this year’s Shark Week, which airs on the Discovery Channel network August 12-16.

This is Volkswagen’s first year as presenting sponsor for the acclaimed programming event, which has carved out its place as must-see television for millions of viewers worldwide. The unique partnership unites the two across multiple platforms, with Volkswagen offering viewers a chance to dive deeper into the Shark Week experience.

“The biggest task for us was how to integrate VW and Shark Week without it just being tacked on,” said Scott Clark in a story on AdAge.com.

“We tried to find the similarities between sharks and the Beetle, but there weren’t a lot. Instead we took the fun and playfulness of the Beetle on land and brought it under water.”
So how do you work Beetle into Shark Week? With a wireframe Beetle shark cage, of course!

Volkswagen and Discovery Channel have worked closely together with marine biologist and shark expert, Luke Tipple, and his engineering team to create a one-of-a-kind “Volkswagen Beetle Shark Observation Cage” that will put viewers in the driver’s seat as it cruises along the ocean floor.

“Shark Week has a loyal and enthusiastic following of fans, and we’re thrilled to partner with Discovery Channel on this 25th anniversary special,” said Justin Osborne, general manager, marketing communications, Volkswagen of America, in a news release.

Building the wire Beetle shark from the ground up. (Source: autoevolution.com)

“We wanted the integration to be authentic and fit naturally with the Volkswagen brand, imprinting our signature style on Shark Week. The Beetle shark cage plays on the silhouettes of two of the most iconic images, the shark fin and the Volkswagen Beetle.”

It looks like how it sounds, metal bars looking just like the outline of the new Beetle turned into a shark cage, complete with wheels.

The design, construction, and submersion of the Beetle shark cage will be unveiled for viewers in a series of three, one-minute segments during Shark Week programming.

To play up the connection, the German automaker is offering “Shark Bites” video playlist and timeline photos for its Facebook page.

“Discovery Channel and Volkswagen share a great partnership and we are extremely proud to have them as a presenting sponsor for our 25th annual Shark Week,” said Scott Felestein, senior vice president, ad sales, Discovery Channel.

“We’re thrilled to offer Volkswagen the opportunity to showcase their innovation and creativity to our loyal Shark Week viewers, helping to increase awareness of their brand.”

Volkswagen’s social media sponsorship will enhance fans’ online Shark Week experience with new viewing choices including a simultaneous broadcasting application with audio syncing to the TV programming.

On-air elements include “Shark Bites,” vignettes that celebrate the greatest moments from past Shark Weeks, and “Sneak Peeks,” short segments began the week of July 17 that look ahead to this year’s 25th Shark Week.

Volkswagen is going to take a big bite out of the 25th anniversary of Shark Week. (Source: usatoday.com)

The Volkswagen Beetle Shark Observation Cage will certainly put viewers in the driver’s seat as it cruises along the ocean floor.

Details

Volkswagen of America, Inc.
Founded in 1955, Volkswagen of America, Inc. is headquartered in Herndon, Virginia. It is a subsidiary of Volkswagen AG, headquartered in Wolfsburg, Germany.

Volkswagen’s operations in the United States include research and development, parts and vehicle processing, parts distribution centers, sales, marketing and service offices, financial service centers, and its state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Website: vw.com

Discovery Communications
Discovery Communications is the world’s number one nonfiction media company reaching more than 1.7 billion cumulative subscribers in 209 countries and territories.

Discovery is dedicated to satisfying curiosity through more than 147 worldwide television networks, led by Discovery Channel, TLC, Animal Planet, and Science and Investigation Discovery.

Website: corporate.discovery.com

Please Note: This is the second of a two-part series on Shark Week

Part 1: Shark Week 2012

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Worth Pondering…
Sharks are as tough as those football fans who take their shirts off during games in Chicago in January, only more intelligent.
—Dave Barry

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The Ecco: Flipping Amazing RV of the Future

Life in the traditional camper van has always been a cramped affair.

The Ecco is set to revolutionise the humble camper van with space-age design that includes collapsible walls and a flip-top upper deck. (Credit: swns.com)

But design experts in Switzerland want to bring that experience to an end with a cutting edge concept—a futuristic Swiss camper van that doubles in size by flipping open “like a Swiss Army knife.”

Since space is the main theme, in design and concept, passengers enter the 15-foot-long electric vehicle from the rear through a huge stairway that folds into the ceiling. The space is then transformed with a flip-out top deck, expandable walls, and fold-down seats for extra room.

Called the Ecco, it is a very green vehicle, topped with a solar-paneled roof that charges its battery and produces zero emissions. An eight-hour charge supposedly lasts a full day, providing enough juice to reach highway-driving speeds. According to published reports the Ecco is able to reach a top speed of 90 mph.

The eco-friendly camper van can sleep a family of five and boasts a kitchen, bathroom, and lounge area.

Flipping futuristic: The Ecco doubles in size when it is unfurled and motorists can even darken the windows for privacy when the vehicle is stationary. (Credit: swns.com)

Both the driver and passenger have a circular window built into the large doors which open vertically towards the sky, while a large windscreen gives travelers a panoramic view of the road.

Swiss designer company NAU said the Ecco was inspired by the Volkswagen camper van and the Airstream. The result is vastly improved interior volume, wonderful sight-lines for all passengers, and less wind resistance to boot. It hopes the futuristic vehicle will prove as iconic as the VW camper van.

While a bit wider than its Volkswagen predecessor, the Ecco’s form is more aerodynamic, and the vehicle rides closer to the ground.

“We want to bring the freedom of the road back to generations of the future,” a NAU spokesperson said.

The Swiss company NAU promises to put the Ecco on sale in 2014, but hasn’t suggested a price.

Is this three-wheeled, teardrop-shaped concept RV legit? Will the Ecco ever exist in real-life?

What do you think?

Details

NAU

Functions: 1-2, Van opens; 3, electric power hook-up; 4, air intake; 5, windscreen; 6, solar power panel; 6-7 Softtop opening roof; 8, fold out stairs. (Credit: arch.nau.coop)

NAU is about making spaces—spaces that tell a story.

NAU is a multidisciplinary collective of designers. They are architects, art directors, interactive designers, visual effect artists, and film makers.

Address: Riedtlistrasse 27, 8006 Zurich, Switzerland

Phone: +41 44 271 0680

Website: arch.nau.coop

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Worth Pondering…

All things are possible until they are proved impossible—and even the impossible may only be so, as of now.

—Pearl S. Buck

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