In my humble opinion, the greenest cars are the ones that are already on the road, and there is no denying that cars have become incredibly complicated devices from their relatively simple roots. So it saddens me to report that after 55 years, the Volkswagen Kombi, also known as the Type 2 or simply the VW bus, will cease to be built at the end of 2013.
Yup, believe it or not Volkswagen has been building essentially the same bus, albeit in a slightly updated form, for the past 55 years. Why didn’t you know? Well that’s because Volkswagen has been building the Kombi solely in Brazil. The last major update to this ancient-by-automotive-standards vehicle came in 2005, when the air-cooled engine was FINALLY replaced by a water-cooled four-banger.
Since it went on sale in Brazil in 1957, Volkswagen has sold 1.5 million Kombi buses. But that run is about to come to an end, and while Volkswagen has pledged a replacement commercial vehicle, it won’t be in the guise of the all-electric VW Bulli microbus.
I don’t have to tell you that the VW Type 2 is an iconic vehicle the world over, and the fact that Volkswagen still builds and sells them more than 60 years after its original introduction is kind of amazing. Then again, countries like Mexico were still using the VW Beetle as taxicabs due to their low cost and rugged reliability, which is possible because of a simple design.
Automakers need to get back-to-basics and deliver this kind of durability with today’s cars. Datsun is working to revive the idea of low-cost, basic transportation, and I expect Volkswagen will want to compete in this low-end market as well. But can either company reproduce the success of the VW Kombi and count on decades of sales? That’s a tall order to be sure.
Source: Car & Driver