Birdwatching
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Why Is The VW Microbus Disappearing From The USA?

Wed Aug 16, 2006 5:30 am

I've crossed the USA 4 times coast-to-coast-roundtrip in my 1996 Volkswagen T4 Bus, and I've wondered about the steady retreat of this wonderful car from the USA. In the 70s, the Microbus (Transporter or "T" in Germany) was an unmistakable icon of a whole generation, with hundreds of thousands of them rolling around the US. They were affordable, spacious, had an automatic transmission and you could replace the big round VW logo with a peace sign.

VW launched the T3 in the 80s, and on all of my travels I've hardly seen any of those, except a handful in California. The T4 of the 90s was a little more popular due to a Winnebago conversion (The EuroVan), and as the base of the Rialta, but I've seen less than a dozen regular T4 Busses in the USA. Now there's the T5, and I have yet to spot one stateside.

Why was the Microbus such a huge success in the US, and the subsequent models (all 5 pictured below) are extremely rare, to the extent that you can't even buy or order one from a VW dealer? (Have to get them from Canada)

(By the way, VW Bus drivers wave to each other in the USA, it makes my day when I meet one in traffic in New York and wave to the driver. HOWEVER, in California they'll cluelessly stare at you because VW Busses are more common there, and drivers don't seem to wave at each other any more than Neon or Focus drivers do)

Soren



[Edited 2006-08-15 22:35:23]
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vivek0072
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RE: Why Is The VW Microbus Disappearing From The USA?

Wed Aug 16, 2006 6:04 am

I would like to think mini vans ( which are almost the size of full blown vans) like Toyota Sienna , Honda Odyssey and the Nissan Quest have taken the share away.

Moreover I haven't seen a commercial by VW for the microbus in the US for some time, I see more of the Jetta ads.
That life's most failures were people who did not realise how close they were to success when they gave up. - Edison.
 
cfcuq
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RE: Why Is The VW Microbus Disappearing From The USA?

Wed Aug 16, 2006 6:19 am

The proportionate population of hippies to drive them has decreased.
 
EasternSon
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RE: Why Is The VW Microbus Disappearing From The USA?

Wed Aug 16, 2006 6:26 am

Quoting CFCUQ (Reply 2):
The proportionate population of hippies to drive them has decreased

And because their microbuses can't run on patchouli oil and stupid idealism.

Seriously though, my sister and her husband wanted to buy one now that they've started a family. Turns out the things don't get great mileage and have very bad crash-test ratings.
"The only people for me are the mad ones...." Jack Kerouac
 
checkraiser
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RE: Why Is The VW Microbus Disappearing From The USA?

Wed Aug 16, 2006 6:30 am

Also add that they are, like their other VW siblings, way overpriced for what you get.
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Sabena332
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RE: Why Is The VW Microbus Disappearing From The USA?

Wed Aug 16, 2006 6:47 am

Quoting Checkraiser (Reply 4):
Also add that they are, like their other VW siblings, way overpriced for what you get.

You think that VWs are overpriced in the US of A?  rotfl  Come to Germany and check out their prices, you will faint!

VW has become way overpriced although I have to say that the Golf IV is nice to drive and comfortable... but still way too expensive!

Patrick
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Birdwatching
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RE: Why Is The VW Microbus Disappearing From The USA?

Wed Aug 16, 2006 6:54 am

Quoting EasternSon (Reply 3):
have very bad crash-test ratings

That is not correct. In fact they get great ratings in Europe, also in a VW Bus you're higher than most of the rest of the traffic. In the US it's different because of all the tanks, ehm, trucks.

Quoting EasternSon (Reply 3):
Turns out the things don't get great mileage

That is correct.

Quoting Checkraiser (Reply 4):
way overpriced for what you get.

Halfway correct. Expensive yes, but the quality of VWs tends to be great.

Soren  santahat 
All the things you probably hate about travelling are warm reminders that I'm home
 
checkraiser
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RE: Why Is The VW Microbus Disappearing From The USA?

Wed Aug 16, 2006 7:05 am

Quoting Birdwatching (Reply 6):
Halfway correct. Expensive yes, but the quality of VWs tends to be great.

Not in the last 10 years. At least in my (and others I know) experience. Especially the Mexican VW's.

Quoting Sabena332 (Reply 5):
You think that VWs are overpriced in the US of A? Come to Germany and check out their prices, you will faint!

How much does a new Jetta cost in Deutchland these days? I assume it's not the same Mexican shitbox they sell here.

(A.net PC disclaimer - I have no problem with Mexicans (unless they are residing here illegally  stirthepot  , but the cars manufactured in Puebla leave a lot to be desired.)
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SlamClick
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RE: Why Is The VW Microbus Disappearing From The USA?

Wed Aug 16, 2006 7:06 am

1. The post-1967 ones aren't VW Microbus' They were never worthy.

2. Of the US population of VW buses that survived as of May 4, 1970 (Kent State - the official last date it was cool to be a hippie)

56% of the remainder are still in US customs impound.
12% cannot be driven anywhere near a drug-sniffing dog.
22% are rusting away in Oregon
02% are rusting away in other states.
01% are on eBay at this moment.
07% are in faculty parking lots at community colleges around the Pacific northwest.
02% are parked on the sidewalk in the Fillmore district and Cow Hollow in San Francisco.
And one lone example has completed a frame-off restoration in the shops at Blackhawk but they cannot bring themselves to display it alongside Deusenbergs and Isotta-Fraschinis.


Now I know that does not add up to 100% but the figures were given to me by my token liberal friend. He drives one, and he usually smells funny.
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MAH4546
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RE: Why Is The VW Microbus Disappearing From The USA?

Wed Aug 16, 2006 7:14 am

Quoting Birdwatching (Thread starter):
to the extent that you can't even buy or order one from a VW dealer? (Have to get them from Canada)

Can't buy them in Canada anymore either.

Volkswagen is introducing a new van next year (debuts in Detroit in January) that will be built by Chrysler and sold only in the US and Canada.
a.
 
TheSonntag
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RE: Why Is The VW Microbus Disappearing From The USA?

Wed Aug 16, 2006 7:50 am

The newest VW microbus (T5) is simply too expensive in Germany.

Bad mileage... Well that might be true for the gasoline powered versions, but if you buy a TDI (I fear the best engines are unfortunately not for sale in the US), it would be a completely different thing...

With a nice TDI engine, you can drive almost 200km/h (120mph) in a VW bus safely. Of course, fuel consumption above 130 km/h is getting enormous.

Fuel Consumption at various speeds: (litres/100km)

100km/h 7,4 l/100km (around 33MPG at 60mph)

130km/h 10,1 l/100km (24,7 MPG at 81mph)

188km/h (Vmax) 19,6l / 100km (12,7 MPG at 117,5MPH)

Source: AutoBild, May 12th, 2006.

I would not call that fuel consumption too bad. Maybe they should sell Diesel engines in the US, too...
 
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AirPacific747
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RE: Why Is The VW Microbus Disappearing From The USA?

Wed Aug 16, 2006 8:01 am

Quoting Sabena332 (Reply 5):
Come to Germany and check out their prices, you will faint!

Ha! That's only the beginning. After you have been to Germany, go to Denmark. You pay for 3 cars but get only 1 to keep. The "other two" went to taxes  Wink
 
aa61hvy
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RE: Why Is The VW Microbus Disappearing From The U

Wed Aug 16, 2006 9:00 am

I'm going to go out on a limb and say they are ugly...Is that a possibility of why they are disappearing?
Go big or go home
 
halls120
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RE: Why Is The VW Microbus Disappearing From The USA?

Wed Aug 16, 2006 9:17 am

Quoting AA61Hvy (Reply 12):
I'm going to go out on a limb and say they are ugly...Is that a possibility of why they are disappearing?

Too expensive.

I had a 1963 microbus with 40 massive horsepower, and later a 1973 Westphalia camper van. Loved them both, especially the camper. Lots of fond memories with that one.
"Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself." Mark Twain, a Biography
 
cptkrell
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RE: Why Is The VW Microbus Disappearing From The USA?

Wed Aug 16, 2006 10:38 am

Hmmm...obvious...no market demand to keep the product a feasible entry. It's called (horrors!) capitalism. Regards..jack
all best; jack
 
MigFan
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RE: Why Is The VW Microbus Disappearing From The USA?

Wed Aug 16, 2006 10:49 am

Here in the US of A we have the Toureg and yes the VW is way too expensive for practical buyers.

/M
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FlyingTexan
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RE: Why Is The VW Microbus Disappearing From The USA?

Wed Aug 16, 2006 12:27 pm

Aren’t the latter 2 considered mini-vans?
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falstaff
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RE: Why Is The VW Microbus Disappearing From The USA?

Wed Aug 16, 2006 1:14 pm

Quoting SlamClick (Reply 8):
Of the US population of VW buses that survived as of May 4, 1970 (Kent State

I always thought that Kent State deal was blown out of proportion. My dad, a college graduate, was fighting it out in Vietnam and it seemed like most people only gave a damn about the hippies and Kent State. Most Hippies today and the neoclassical hippies have never lived in the real world. There was a bunch of the neoclassic hippies around when I was in college and they knew nothing about getting along in the world. If people weren't happy about diversity and smoking dope they didn't get it.

As far as the VW thing goes. I think plenty of people are freaked out by the high cost of owning a VW here in the USA. Cost of repairs is outrageous. I have a friend who is a service writer at a VW dealer and he talks about losing customers everyday because of the cost of repairs. People buy a VW once and that is it. He talks about the VW Jetta people being the most knowledgeable and the Toureg people being the least. $2000 dollar starters are never good for customer relation. There are always people who will love them, the way I love Mercedes-Benz diesels, but most people don't like the repair bills. That really is depressing because VW was once a car that eveyone could fix at a low cost.
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N1120A
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RE: Why Is The VW Microbus Disappearing From The USA?

Wed Aug 16, 2006 4:04 pm

Quoting Checkraiser (Reply 7):
Especially the Mexican VW's.

The Bus isn't build in Mexico and VW has actually decided to return the lion share of US and Canada production to Wolfsburg.
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L-188
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RE: Why Is The VW Microbus Disappearing From The USA?

Wed Aug 16, 2006 4:21 pm

Quoting SlamClick (Reply 8):
Now I know that does not add up to 100% but the figures were given to me by my token liberal friend.

Your buddy didn't factor in the ones that where converted into septic tanks and buried.

Quoting Falstaff (Reply 17):
That really is depressing because VW was once a car that eveyone could fix at a low cost.

No kidding, we had two early 80's rabbits in our family that we ran the hell out of. They could take a licking.
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EasternSon
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RE: Why Is The VW Microbus Disappearing From The USA?

Wed Aug 16, 2006 11:33 pm

Most of the hippies I encounter these days are Trustifarians.

They drive new Nissan Pathfinders or Jeep Grand Cherokees and bitch about the environment while getting 13 mpg.

I would like to set some of them on fire.
"The only people for me are the mad ones...." Jack Kerouac
 
Sabena332
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RE: Why Is The VW Microbus Disappearing From The USA?

Wed Aug 16, 2006 11:40 pm

Quoting Checkraiser (Reply 7):
How much does a new Jetta cost in Deutchland these days?

The cheapest model (100hp) costs 19375 EUR... not included are things like air condition, radio, fog lights, etc.

What a joke!

Patrick
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CO7e7
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RE: Why Is The VW Microbus Disappearing From The USA?

Wed Aug 16, 2006 11:57 pm

Quoting SlamClick (Reply 8):
Of the US population of VW buses that survived as of May 4, 1970 (Kent State - the official last date it was cool to be a hippie)

That's my Alma Mater... i still work there! Not too many hippies on campus..  Big grin

just my 2cents

-Zaki
 
DAL767400ER
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RE: Why Is The VW Microbus Disappearing From The USA?

Thu Aug 17, 2006 12:06 am

All the complaining about high buying prices...
Simple solution, don't buy it, lease it. Not sure how things work at VW, but from Opel, we got our Vectra, with all the sh!tbangabang, as a leased car, for €8,000 under list price. Okay, it doesn't have a "Rußpartikelfilter", but regardless, if you know how to talk, you can save lots of money when buying/leasing car. Now, insurance is another story  Wink .
 
columba
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RE: Why Is The VW Microbus Disappearing From The USA?

Thu Aug 17, 2006 12:34 am

Quoting DAL767400ER (Reply 23):
Simple solution, don't buy it, lease it. Not sure how things work at VW, but from Opel, we got our Vectra, with all the sh!tbangabang, as a leased car, for €8,000 under list price.

Who wants to own an Opel and even worse a Vectra  Wink

Quoting Birdwatching (Thread starter):
I've wondered about the steady retreat of this wonderful car from the USA.

Me, too. I think I have seen a T4 called Eurovan once as I have been to the states. I always thought that it would be a perfect car to have especially in the States. It is very spacious and comfortable to drive especially the Tdi versions are great.
A few weeks I had the oppurtunity to drive some great new cars one of them being a T5 , it had all extras you could think of much, from comfort point of view it was much better than the BMW 5series, A6 and the Mercedes E-class I drove shortly after -although the BMW was the most fun to drive..... Wink
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checkraiser
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RE: Why Is The VW Microbus Disappearing From The USA?

Thu Aug 17, 2006 12:43 am

Quoting Sabena332 (Reply 21):
The cheapest model (100hp) costs 19375 EUR... not included are things like air condition, radio, fog lights, etc.

 eyepopping 

As for the lack of diesels:

Our emission laws are getting too tough to make them economically viable. The Jeep Liberty was launched with a diesel last year - has had very strong sales, and is being discontinued next year because it can't meet 2007 emissions. I believe the Jetta and Beetle TDI are experiencing the same fate. Heavy truck engines manufacutred after Jan. 07 will have a $7500 increase due to all of the equipment added to comply with the new EPA standard.
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columba
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RE: Why Is The VW Microbus Disappearing From The USA?

Thu Aug 17, 2006 1:01 am

Quoting Checkraiser (Reply 25):
Our emission laws are getting too tough to make them economically viable

Well here in Europe we also have very strict emission law and with a particulate filter it would be no problem to make them economically viable, especially if it the car runs on Bio-diesel.
The problem with Diesel in the US is the bad image they have. Most people in the States associate diesel with big, black, sooty smoke and heavy trucks.
That is one reason why instead of offering more diesel powered cars companies in the States prefer the Hybrid technology.
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DAL767400ER
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RE: Why Is The VW Microbus Disappearing From The USA?

Thu Aug 17, 2006 7:20 am

Quoting Columba (Reply 24):
Who wants to own an Opel and even worse a Vectra

Didn't say we own it  Wink . Besides, it is a great car (like Opel in general, but that's probably getting too off-topic), with good economics.
 
usnseallt82
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RE: Why Is The VW Microbus Disappearing From The USA?

Thu Aug 17, 2006 9:01 am

Quoting Birdwatching (Thread starter):
Why Is The VW Microbus Disappearing From The USA?

Because they attract hippies.
Crye me a river
 
columba
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RE: Why Is The VW Microbus Disappearing From The USA?

Thu Aug 17, 2006 2:27 pm

Quoting DAL767400ER (Reply 27):
Didn't say we own it Wink

I know that is why you leased it  Wink
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DYflyer
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RE: Why Is The VW Microbus Disappearing From The USA?

Fri Aug 18, 2006 4:52 am

Quoting Sabena332 (Reply 21):
The cheapest model (100hp) costs 19375 EUR... not included are things like air condition, radio, fog lights, etc.

Wow! I wish the cars were that cheap here in Norway. Add 11.500 EUR for our price. And no that is not just the Jetta that is overpriced. That is what we can expect to pay for a car of that size and qualities.

As for the disappearance of the microbus from US. I think one reason is that VWoA has not done a good enough job marketing wise. I think the car itself would fit very well in the US. There is of course the engine problem. Here in Europe it is the diesel versions that are most sold (in Norway they don't even sell it with a petrol engine), and it is those engines Volkswagen focuses on. The V6 engine should be OK in the US (particularly with the low gas prices they have), but now that americans have started to focus more on MPG it isn't really competitive. Developing a new petrol engine just to get a small increase in the American market would be very expensive. This could also be a future problem for the smaller VWs. Now more than 50% of Golfs, Jettas and Passats sold here in Norway has diesel engines, and the share is increasing. The same goes for Audi.
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