A REVIVAL of the iconic Volkswagen Kombi – otherwise known as the Type 2, or microbus, depending on your level of anorak – is a guaranteed headline grabber.
Talk of the cult icon returning to production is something which media outlets and enthusiasts eat up with vigour.
But, before you go planning a flowers-in-your-hair, ‘60s themed summer road trip, allow us to pour some cold water on that excitement.
The same old concepts and quotes from executives have appeared on an almost annual basis, and we don’t seem any closer to a Kombi revival becoming a reality.
So, to help give the latest hype-cycle some context, here are all the times this century Volkswagen has toyed with, and claimed, a Kombi-esque vehicle will head for production.
The most recent claim is of course the ID Buzz concept. Revealed at the Detroit auto show at the start of 2017, the all-electric concept set the media alight with speculation regarding a production vehicle.
This was confirmed recently at Pebble Beach, with Volkswagen executives stating that 2022 is the year for production of its battery-powered microbus to begin.
Before the ID Buzz was revealed at Detroit, Volkswagen revealed the similarly all-electric BUDD-e at the Consumer Electrics Show in Las Vegas the year prior.
Want to know what executives said about the car then? A showroom ready-version was promised by 2020.
The car was claimed to be built on VW’s ‘MEB’ modular electric platform, and it was reported a production model would carry many of the same features as the concept.
Just a year prior to the BUDD-e, VW again started building hype surrounding a Kombi revival.
Again, the claims were for an all-electric spiritual successor to the Kombi, with no specific date given for the car to enter production.
Unlike the ID Buzz or BUDD-e, this time the claims weren’t accompanied by a completed concept vehicle, but were circulated by Senior Volkswagen board member, Dr Heinz-Jakob Neusser (pictured below, on left).
In 2011 it was the Bulli concept stealing headlines from the Geneva Motor Show.
This was the start of the all-electric concept for the Kombi– yes, they have been talking about it for over six years now. The Bulli concept had all the hallmarks of a Kombi throwback, but was actually shorter in both length and height than the original.
Production rumours began circling on the Geneva show floor, though it speculated the possibility of a 1.2-litre three-cylinder petrol or diesel engine being shoehorned into the concept. As we know now, that is still yet to become reality.
The rumour mill was rolling in 2008, with unnamed sources within the company kick-starting discussions in the public about the return of the Kombi.
The revelations followed news in 2005 that a microbus revival was planned atop the T5 commercial vehicle platform. At the time it was expected production would take place in North America at the newly completed Chattanooga plant in Tennesse, from 2011 onwards.
In 2006, VW actually put the Kombi back into production. Kind of.
What actually happened was the Kombi badge was added to the Transporter range with the launch of the Kombi Beach. Essentially a Volkswagen Transporter with a bed in the back, the Kombi Beach quickly faded from memory, and was perhaps one of the least sophisticated attempts to cash in on Kombi nostalgia.
Genesis. Just a year into the 21st century, VW revealed the Microbus Concept car at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
Considered futuristic at the time, it featured a 7-inch infotainment screen in the centre console, along with a ceiling-mounted 7-inch screen which allowed the driver to see behind the car.
Off the back of the concept, a production vehicle was announced in 2002, to be built atop the T5 commercial van (see above), with production penciled in for 2003. Output was expected to reach 80,000 units by 2005, but this was all delayed, before being officially binned in 2005, with VW announcing the Transporter Multivan will fill the shoes of the stillborn concept.
It’s now 16 years later, and while many promises have been made we're still half a decade away from seeing a production version of Volkswagen's electric van come to fruition.