Volkswagen has announced an official end to the production of its iconic “bus” and many a teary-eyed hippie are feeling wistful at the passing of a vehicle that became emblematic of peace and freedom throughout the ‘60s and beyond.
<strong>Type 2 (aka Transporter, Kombi, Microbus …)</strong>
December 31st, 2013, will mark the last day the vehicle will ever roll off of an assembly line. The bus (officially dubbed the Type 2 by VW, although it has had several model names) was once manufactured in Germany, Taiwan and Brazil, but now the Brazil plant is the only one left producing them.
Many befuddled bohemians may be wondering why VW can't make the bus forever and the answer may be disheartening for more freewheeling spirits: the clash between mandated safety and profit. A new law in Brazil that goes into effect in 2014 requires all vehicles produced in the country to have airbags, and to this VW politely responded, "Nein, danke."
The final model will be a Kombi, appropriately named the “Last Edition.” Only 600 will be made and all will be sold in Brazil, but the limited number is not influencing VW’s list price at a modest $35,367. Many would agree it’s a small price to pay for a rolling reminder of a long and storied legacy.
VW began producing the bus in 1957 and since that time more than 10 million have been made. The history of the Type 2 is entwined with the history of VW as a company, which became synonymous with anti-consumerism and individuality thanks to slick marketing for its legendary Type 1 – otherwise known as the Beetle. The Type 2 rode the coattails of this success, becoming a symbol of America’s counterculture throughout the 1960s.
VW’s message of “Think Small” was attractive to a whole new brand of consumer during that time, but there were people who really did want a little more room than what the Beetle had to offer. Enter the Type 2: a bus with the same robust performance of the Beetle and made of the same stern stuff … but with more space.
It became a quick hit with younger buyers who, at the time, were becoming more nomadic thanks to things like TV and the global conflict that was being waged upon it – the flickering images showed a new generation that it was a big world and they wanted to get out into it. The bus offered them exactly what they needed in an economical and durable package.
Now, it may be argued that VW’s announcement may end up being premature, as it was with the Beetle when they stopped production in 1980. Eighteen years later Beetles were back on the market and continue to enjoy a great deal of success. Maybe the bus will also make a comeback, to carry a whole new generation of fans into their futures.
<a title="ATG Stores Homepage" href="http://www.atgstores.com/" target="_blank">ATGStores.com</a> invites to you to vote on whether you think the bus will be back.