HANOVER, Germany -- Volkswagen AG has dropped plans to roll out a North American successor to its famous bus, the classic hippie-mobile that drew a cult following and sparked countless road trips.
Instead Europe's biggest carmaker will target the European market with a new version of the Microbus based on its T5 transport van, Chief Executive Bernd Pischetsrieder told a news conference on Thursday.
VW had originally intended to make a new bus for the North American market, but dropped this idea given a tougher economic environment and a stronger euro than when the plan was first hatched, he said.
The new Microbus, closed-roof versions of its T5 transporter and a new "robust pickup" truck will all be made at VW's Hanover plant to use up more of the German factory's capacity and secure 15,000 jobs there through 2011.
But abandoning the project to export a new bus to North America means VW will not add the 1,500 extra jobs it envisioned when it said in 2002 the Hanover plant would make the vehicle. Talks with labor representatives on this point would follow in late 2006.
VW will also develop a new people carrier based on its existing Multivan model featuring luxury touches.
Pischetsrieder said the new pickup would be developed and built in Hanover. It could also be made at a later date in Abu Dhabi and Brazil for regional markets. He envisioned making around 30,000 units eventually for each of the three regions.