Volkswagen California Concept goes electric


aria-label="Volkswagen California Concept"

Volkswagen’s Multivan will be turned into plug-in hybrid family-friendly camper.

The next-generation Volkswagen California camper, based on the Multivan, will be offered with a plug-in hybrid powertrain when it goes on sale next year, the brand’s commercial vehicles arm has confirmed.

It has released a pair of design sketches ahead of the California’s reveal at the Düsseldorf Caravan Salon trade fair (25 August), confirming it will feature a pop-out roof and gazebo.

VW also hinted that the new California will feature two sliding doors, stating “no one has ever claimed that a California should have only one sliding door”. This would resolve a key grievance for California buyers in right-hand-drive markets: the outgoing T6.1 model only opens on the right-hand side, which can complicate kerbside drop-offs.

aria-label="Volkswagen California Concept 2"

A removable tablet features inside the California Concept, giving passenger access to climate and lighting controls, as well as a ‘camping mode’. In the T6.1, this setting deactivates the exterior lights so you don’t disturb fellow campers when unlocking the van late at night.

The interior of the new California is otherwise expected to mirror the T6.1, including a kitchen area with stovetops and a cool box, plus a dining table and sink.

Given it is based on the Multivan, the new California is anticipated to use the same plug-in hybrid powertrain. This pairs a 148bhp 1.4-litre petrol engine with a 114bhp electric motor, for a combined 215bhp. In the Multivan, this powertrain is officially rated to return 156.9mpg, but we averaged around 55mpg with a fully charged battery in our full road test. This figure is expected to fall slightly in the California, given its tent and interior tweaks are likely to add significantly to its weight.

Production of the next-generation California will begin at VW’s Hanover plant in Germany next year, the firm confirmed in a statement. When it arrives, prices are expected to open at a significant premium compared with the T6.1, which starts at £61,322. For reference, the Mercedes-Benz V-Class Marco Polo starts at £83,490, while the Ford Transit Nugget is priced from £76,027.

As for the long-awaited all-electric California based on the ID Buzz, VW Commercial Vehicles CEO Carsten Intra confirmed in March that this will arrive in 2025.

Speaking at the company’s annual press conference, he said: “We want to expand the range around the business with our camper models and offer what people really like in our products – what we call the ‘California feeling’.

“It includes digital services for the California community, new services to complement the purchase of a vehicle and the presentation of a new California vehicle based on the Volkswagen Multivan. This is what we are planning for later this year.”

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