Volkswagen Microbus Production Ends After 63 Years
Safety Regulations Spell End for VW's Counter-Culture Icon
In the minds of most Americans, the end of the Volkswagen Microbus came about three decades ago, when it was replaced by the more modern Vanagon model, itself superseded by the front-drive EuroVan, which was ultimately replaced by a rebadged Chrysler minivan.
Over that entire stretch of time, the Microbus, or Kombi as it's known in many markets, has been in continuous production in some global markets. Brazil in particular is a living history museum of VW's classic models, with the country producing the original Beetle (yes, the rear-drive, air-cooled boxer one) up until 2006.
Now, one of the last remnants of VW's original rear-engine product line is nearing its end, according to Autocar. New safety regulations in Brazil mandate that cars built after January 1, 2014, must have anti-lock brakes and driver and front-passenger airbags. Redesigning the Kombi to meet the new standards would necessitate an entire ground-up redesign, something unfeasible and unnecessary when VW has numerous more modern replacements in its lineup to take the place of its classic van.
You may note from the photo that the newer Kombi models have a front radiator grille, as opposed to the sheetmetal noses on the original models. Despite their retro appearance, late-model Kombis are actually powered by a liquid-cooled, rear-mounted 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine that is fully compliant with current and foreseeable future emission standards in South America.