Volkswagen introduced its all-new T7 transporter van yesterday. It looks like it could be a hit in the US. Except that it won’t be sold here. Why is it that the Volkswagens we want, like the T7 van, we can’t have? But dirty diesel sedans masquerading as “clean diesel” is what we get instead.
The VW van presence in the US has been on and off over the years
The new T7 Multivan is a direct descendant of the beloved Microbus of the 1950s and 1960s. But Volkswagen has had a spotty record when it comes to these vans in the US. After the T4 there was a period of nothing before VW chose to rebadge Dodge Caravans.
As you can imagine, they didn’t do well. So we expect that the record of that failure has made VW reluctant to offer its vans here. But especially the camper versions of its T6 would have been a welcome addition here as there is nothing like it.
What’s new with the 2022 VW Multivan?
What makes the Multivan more compelling is that it now comes as a plug-in hybrid. The 1.4-liter TSI inline-four is combined with an 85 kW electric motor for a combined 215 hp. The 13 kWh lithium-ion battery gets mounted to the floor adding handling stability to the boxy van.
Traditional engines are still available as well with the 1.5-liter or 2-liter TSI gas engine, and diesel power, too. All get hooked to a seven-speed automatic. If VW were to consider Multivan sales here it could forget the diesel.
Inside, bench second and third-row seating is gone. It is replaced with individual rear seats. A center console that can be utilized or flooded out of the way is also part of the package. Bigger screens, a head-up display, and stylish interiors make you forget this is a van.
VW vans look like VW vans-a good thing
On the outside, it is an evolution of both the previous T5 and T6 Multivan. With the abrupt rear, the chiseled line below the belt, and honest windows defining the sides, the VW vans have maintained their readily identifiable looks. A VW van looks like a VW van.
And that is not a bad thing. We seem to be at this point in van evolution where the traditional minivan market is being abandoned. Other than Honda, Toyota, and Hyundai, your choices are a small city van like the Ford Transit Connect, or the traditional large van like the old Ford E-Series or Ram Promaster.
VW has the reputation, history, and means to market the Multivan successfully here
And of the former, the Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna minivans can get a bit pricey. So the landscape looks welcoming for another traditional minivan in the vein of the Odyssey and Sienna. But one that is 10-20 percent cheaper. VW has the reputation, history, and means to do that with the Multivan.
Unfortunately, it has made it fairly clear it is not interested in making the new Multivan available here. We’ll have to wait a few more years until the ID Buzz retro van makes its way here. If it does well, it may open the door for the T7 in a few more years.
RELATED: History of the Volkswagen Bus