Volkswagen has long been known for producing some of the most interesting and storied cars in automotive history. Typically, they are rather no-nonsense, offering good fuel efficiency and solid performance in lieu of a lot of luxury items. They may not always have every bell and whistle you can imagine, but they almost always offer solid performance that can last for years, especially if the car is properly taken care of. The thing that truly sets this automaker apart from almost everybody else is its ability to produce a campervan that is like nothing else on the market. They started doing this back in the 1960s with the classic VW campervan, something that is still widely sought after all these years later. In more recent years, they went with the option to convert campervans using Westfalia, a company that does a lot of conversions for many different automakers. Whether or not you can still get anything from both Volkswagen and Westfalia gets a little confusing, largely because of the company structure of Westfalia itself. In order to better understand this, let's start there.
The History of Westfalia
The first thing you have to understand is that Westfalia is not a particular car made by Volkswagen. Instead, it's a company that specializes in converting typical van type vehicles into campervans. Think of it as a motorhome, only shorter. The vehicles they produce are typically ones with a shorter wheelbase, meaning that they're both more fuel efficient and easier to control. They also don't take as much room to park as one of the longer, more luxurious motorhomes would. That said, there is nothing to say that a Westfalia option can't be luxurious in its own right. Over the years, they have produced options for everybody from Volkswagen to Ford and almost everyone in between. In fact, the parent company has been doing business in one capacity or another since 1977.
Despite the fact that the company has seen a lot of success with some of its options, it has also experienced more than its fair share of financial issues over the years. Back in 2010, Westfalia declared bankruptcy, yet they continued to produce more conversion vehicles even while they were going through the bankruptcy process. Unfortunately, that bankruptcy didn't solve all of their financial issues and they were acquired by a different company a number of years later. That led many people to believe that Westfalia and Volkswagen would no longer work together. If you want to get technical about things, they aren't working together because Westfalia was acquired by someone else. However, as is often the case in the business world, that doesn't necessarily mean that the company name is gone from the public eye, nor does it mean that no one will be producing the campervans any longer. In fact, it is still possible to get your hands on one of these automobiles. A lot of it depends on where you live, because it's not available all over the globe. If you want to know more, keep reading.
The Current Westfalia Options Available
As it happens, there are currently two Westfalia options available from Volkswagen, the Kepler Five and the Kepler Six. These vehicles still have the pop top, just like the famed Volkswagen campervans of old. They also have a lot to offer when it comes to practicality, with a shorter wheelbase that is quite nimble for driving around in a modern-day metropolitan area while still being perfectly suitable for long-distance road trips that require you to live in the vehicle for a number of days at a time. In fact, they offer an updated floor plan, the latest in modern-day flooring and wall coverings, and even the most modern appliances available. The biggest difference is that they are designed for modern-day travelers. As such, they have a very clean, minimalistic appearance that reserves the main part of the van for the living room, complete with a flat screen TV and a bench seat that converts into a sofa that is more than comfortable and can comfortably seat three people. The surprising thing is that Volkswagen and Westfalia decided to move the kitchen to the very rear of the vehicle. It definitely works, giving room for a stove and a refrigerator without feeling cramped. If you want extra space, all you have to do is pop open the back hatch and get a bird's-eye view of the location that you're currently in while cooking breakfast or making dinner.
If you think that you have to do without a few things in order to cram enough space into a vehicle with a shorter wheelbase, think again. These vehicles even come with an available toilet and a shower, something that you don't see in a lot of shorter conversion vans. They don't come as standard equipment, but you certainly have the option to purchase them if you choose to do so. Granted, it may cut down on the available room a bit, but if you're going to be spending a lot of time in that campervan, it really doesn't make sense not to go ahead and get these options.
You Can’t Get Them Everywhere
The truly sorrowful thing about these vehicles is that you can't get them everywhere. Namely, you can't get one of them in the United States, no matter how hard you look. Unless you purchase one in another country and then have it brought over on your own dime, you're not going to be able to enjoy one on US soil. That is because the company never made any plans to sell these vehicles in the United States and it doesn't look like those plans are going to change anytime in the near future. For now, the vehicle is not available in this particular country, largely because Volkswagen doesn't believe that they would make a big enough profit from sales in the United States to bother with it.
If you’re fortunate enough to be able to get your hands on one of these, you’re probably going to fall in love with it. It offers the best in terms of both livability and drivability, something that few vehicles of this type can do.
Written by Benjamin Smith
Read more posts by Benjamin Smith