The new Volkswagen California concept previews the “future of the camper van”, showcasing a raft of extensive upgrades that will feature on the seventh-generation model which launches next year.
Based on the Volkswagen Multivan, the concept was revealed at the Caravan Salon trade fair in Düsseldorf. Its near-production form showed off significant changes – such as a plug-in hybrid powertrain shared with the Multivan – that will be introduced to the campervan as it moves over to VW's car-derived MQB architecture.
The concept shares the Multivan’s plug-in hybrid powertrain, which pairs a 148bhp 1.4-litre petrol engine with a 114bhp electric motor, for a combined 215bhp, and draws EV power from a 13kWh battery - which should give an engine-off range of around 25 miles.
One of the big updates to the Ford Transit Custom Nugget rival – itself revealed this week – is a second sliding door, which resolves a key grievance for current California owners in right-hand-drive markets because the outgoing T6.1 model only opens on the right-hand side, which can complicate kerbside drop-offs.
Having the pair of sliding doors also allows for the kitchen – with larger worktops, a hob, a cool box and a sink – to be accessed from outside the vehicle for the first time. This gives owners “the feeling of more living space”, the brand says. Built-in extendable awnings give a further increase to this living area.
The concept brings with it modern touches including colour-adjustable LEDs that light up the cupboards and the awning arms to “bathe the vehicle’s terrace” in light. A removable camping light is also fitted. There's even a built-in shower that attaches to the boot's open hatch.
But the key feature – one that the brand says makes the concept “the ideal camper van for the modern age” – is a new removable tablet device. This controls “all of the features relevant for camping”, such as raising the pop-up roof and providing information on the fresh and waste water levels, the interior lighting functions, power supply status, refrigerator and auxiliary. It can even be used to watch movies and television.