Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles
Volkswagen, a German automaker, has been making vehicles since before WWII. Its first model, Volkswagen Beetle, an air-cooled gem, was an instant hit and deserves to hold the title, the people’s car. During its production, which spanned 65 years, over 23 million Beetles were produced; a feat which still remains undefeated for any car with the same design throughout its production run. Initially the Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles was a part of the Volkswagen Passenger Car division. It was made a separate marque from the 1995 onwards. The Volkswagen Truck division produced both heavy and light pickup trucks. The Volkswagen Trucks and Buses operations started out in 1981 when the first heavy duty Volkswagen truck, the Volkswagen 11.130, was launched in February 1981. Initially, the Volkswagen Truck and Buses operated under the Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles Group, but was later split into a separate division owned by MAN SE.
Volkswagen Micro Buses
Volkswagen attempted early on to tap the lucrative commercial vehicles segment with the launch of its first van in 1949, the Bulli. It had a rear engined air cooled engine platform. A year later, due to trademark issues, the Bulli was rechristened as Type 2 Transporter. The Transporter soon found a cult following among the hippies. By 1968 over 2 million units had been produced. Several variants for the first generation Type 2 were launched, which included the light truck, camper and a panel van version. From 1968 onwards, a more rounder second generation Type 2 Transporter was produced until 1979. It still continued to use the air cooled engine. The third generation type 2 transporters was launched in 1980. by 1983, the air cooled engine was dropped out in favor of water cooled engines (still using rear platform). The model range was given a facelift during the later half of the 80s. A more upscale bus version, called the Caravelle, with comfort oriented features such as the mid and rear headrests, reading lights, metallic paint, velour upholstery, sound system and wheel covers, joined the T3 range in 1983. Also a four wheel drive version called the Syncro was also added to the T3 line Up. The T4 and T5 Transporters were launched in the year 1990 and 2003 respectively. These marked a transition from the rear mounted platform to to front engine, front wheel drive layout. An in house designed high spec camper version called the California – a fully equipped modern camper with beds, fold up seats, table, sink and fridge and several other features – was added to the T5 range in August 2003.
Volkswagen Light Pickup Trucks.
The Volkswagen did not produce a sole dedicated pickup trucks until the late 1970s. Initially the pickup trucks were largely based on the Transporters. These included a single crew cabin, extended crew cab, or the double cabin versions with a wider bed. These formed the basis of the Volkswagen Truck segment. Even until now, most of the VW pickup trucks are either based on its standard passengers cars or bus models. The first Volkswagen truck called the Basistransporter, a front air cooled engined front wheel drive, was launched in 1975. It marked the first dedicated Volkswagen Truck model. The production ran from 1975 to 1979. It had a payload capacity of 1,000 kilograms. However, only 2600 models were produced and none of them was sold in any developed country. In 1975, The Volkswagen Truck segment expanded to include the LT range, a front engined rear wheel drive platform, which was designed from the offset as a cab over design. Other bodywork options included the camper version, a panel van, single cabin, double cabin and a compact. The first generation LT had a successful production run from 1975 till 1996, before being replaced Mercedes-Benz’s Sprinter based LT. The second generation LT was result of a joint venture between Volkswagen and Mercedes-Benz group. The second generation had a VW sourced engine with a Sprinter body. In 2006, The LT nameplate was replaced by the Crafter, a large 3 – 5 tonne van. Essentially, the Crafter is a third iteration of LT. The body styles carried over from the previous generations, which included: panel van, single cabin, double chassis and a mini bus.
Following the footsteps of LT, a 3 tonne L80 truck was added to the VW truck range. It was jointly developed by the Volkswagen Commercial Vehicle Group and Volkswagen Brazil. The cab design was borrowed from the discontinued LT truck. Some minor cosmetic changes were given including a new bumper and headlights. The L80 truck was marketed until it was discontinued in 2000 when European Emission control came into effect.
In 1980, the Volkswagen released a modern successor to the discontinued Basistransporter, the front engine front wheel drive Caddy light pickup truck. The body style(s) both included the panel van and a pickup truck. The first generation shared the Golf Mk1 underpinnings. Launched in 1996,The second generation Caddy carried on the success of Caddy Mk1. Caddy Mk2 was based on third generation Polo. A more aerodynamic third generation Caddy debuted in 2003. it was shared the 5th generation VW Golf platform. In 2005, a seven seat passenger van version Caddy Life was released. Caddy was given a facelift in 2010.
In the year 1987, The Volkswagen launched the Taro – a one tonne pickup truck based on the fifth generation Toyota Hilux. It was introduced to complement the half tonne Caddy and Transporter van. The VW hoped to capture a substantial share of the European utility truck market with the rebadged Hilux. However, the Taro failed to meet the expectations and was dropped out of the line up in 1997.
Volkswagen would not revive the robust pickup truck segment until the introduction of the mid szie Amarok in 2009. The Amarok is the VW’s first robust pick up truck that has been designed to compete directly with the Toyota Hilux and Nissan Nirvana. It is offered both in two wheel drive and four wheel drive configuration.