Wheelchair accessible vans and frozen goods trucks! Volkswagen shows off new conversion variants that are tapped for Australia
Volkswagen Australia is going all-in on vehicle conversions, with the company revealing a number of new offerings for commercial use, as well as high-end campers and wheelchair accessible vehicles. The German giant is partnering with well-known Australian companies, as well as European conversion specialists, for its new and upcoming range of converted models. Volkswagen Australia Commercial Vehicles director Ryan Davies said that upwards of 15 per cent of its commercial vehicle sales in 2022 have been conversions.
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It already offers the California versions of its Caddy and Multivan models for camping purposes, but they are built in-house, and the Amarok W580 is a collaboration with engineering, design and manufacturing firm, Walkinshaw Group in Melbourne's south east.
But if each of the models VW showed journalists last week at its Melbourne training facility get the green light, it would significantly increase the brand's presence in specialist conversions. One of the models is the Wheelchair Access Conversion of the VW Caddy Maxi Life, which is the people mover version of the Caddy light van. Converted by German family business AMF Bruns, the Caddy differs from many other wheelchair accessible conversions in that it looks no different on the outside to a regular Caddy Maxi.
VW says the Wheelchair Access Conversion will add approximately £25,000 to the £52,640 (before on-road costs) price of the diesel-powered TDI320 Caddy Maxi Life on which it is based. But inside, the Caddy features a cut-out floor and a light fold-out ramp, with room for one wheelchair, while still allowing seating for five other occupants. It can also be a six- or seven-seater.
There's a head and backrest for the wheelchair occupant, as well as a Protektor 2.0 occupant and wheelchair restraint system and an electric belt retractor to help load the wheelchair. VW says it will add approximately £25,000 to the £52,640 (before on-road costs) price of the diesel-powered TDI320 Caddy Maxi Life on which it is based. That would put pricing at about £77,000.
It is currently being homologated for Australia and VW is targeting an on-sale date of late 2023. The all-wheel drive Crafter Kampervan built by caravan specialist Jayco features a full kitchen. A pair of Australian conversions were on show, including a Crafter 35 Medium Wheelbase fitted with a polycarbonate bullbar designed and made in Melbourne and Adelaide by off-road parts specialist, ARB.
The bullbar - dubbed a Smartbar SpartanBar FPS - has the ability to flex and absorb on impact, but then it can return to shape following an accident. It weighs just 53kg and is compatible with the Crafters onboard safety and driver assist systems. The target market for this bullbar is ambulance and other emergency services.
The other Aussie conversion on show was the all-wheel drive Crafter Kampervan, built by caravan specialist Jayco in Dandenong South, Victoria. This Crafter was revealed earlier this year, but the latest prototype gains some additional features, such as grab handles in the side entrance, based on customer feedback. The Crafter Tipper, converted by Ingimex from the UK, offers a one-tonne load.
Priced from £133,390 for the base grade (there are three grades) before on-road costs, the initial allocation of 69 sold out in a few days, but a new batch of at least 100 units will be available from mid-2023. It features sleeping for up to three people, seating for four, fresh and waste water tanks, sinks, full kitchen, reverse cycle air conditioner and a lithium battery with solar system. On the commercial front, there's also a Crafter Tipper, converted by Ingimex from the UK, offering a one-tonne load.
This doesn't have pricing yet as it is still under evaluation. Another option is a Crafter Single Cab 50 Box Body, which has a payload of 1.75 tonnes. VW says 22 examples will be on sale before Christmas priced from £79,990 before on-road costs.
The Crafter 55 Single Cab with Eutectic Cold Goods Body displayed is a -40 degrees Celsius frozen goods truck. Finally, VW showed off a model designed for transporting frozen goods - including corpses. Converted by Carlsen Baltic UAB in Lithuania, the Crafter 55 Single Cab with Eutectic Cold Goods Body displayed is a -40 degrees Celsius frozen goods truck.
It runs a Eutectic Cooling System that does not require any engine power to keep the body cold during transport runs, according to VW.
If VW decides to offer this Down Under, it will cost about £130,000 before on-road costs.