Third time's a charm

VW changes microbus project again

Wolfsburg, Germany. Volkswagen AG's board of directors has changed the microbus project again.

VW group boss Bernd Pischetsrieder announced that the lifestyle van will be a variant of the current T5 transporter series.

The original plan was to give the microbus a retro look based on the legendary "Bulli" from the 1950's and to build the car primarily for US customers starting in 2007. But the weak US dollar made German exports of that car to the US unworkable.

So VW commercial vehicle boss Bernd Wiedemann changed the concept to a luxurious multi-function vehicle for the European market. But internal feasibility studies projected sales volume of only 40,000 units. For cost reasons VW then decided to build a reduced microbus as a T5 variant.

To use the capacity at its Hanover plant, VW will manufacture a new model series with ladder frame and open loading area starting in 2008. The so-called "robust pickup" will use modules from existing VW models.

Works council member Guenter Lenz said he believes that these are "incredibly important decisions."

IN OTHER VW NEWS ...

VW Finance Director Hans Dieter Poetsch said last week that one reason for subpar 2004 results was poor currency exchange rates.

Despite this, Pischetsrieder ruled out an expansion of the Puebla plant in Mexico. He also said he believes that outsourcing part of Audi's production would be "too complicated and expensive."

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