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More than 70 years after the first Kombi van released, the demand and love for the iconic people mover continues to grow.
Volkswagen has announced the latest iteration of its iconic Kombi van – an electric vehicle named the ID.Buzz.
The new vehicle marks a return in many ways to the Kombi’s roots, with Volkswagen offering up a van with just as much style as the classic T1 and T2 models of the 1950s and 1960s, even if that style is more futuristic than flower-power.
The enduring character of the Kombi has remained one of its most appealing features over its 70-year history. It began as a delivery van, but has evolved into one of the most iconic and recognisable vehicles of all time.
The Kombi van’s journey started back in the late 1940s, when Volkswagen wanted to create a second vehicle to complement its (perhaps equally iconic) Volkswagen Beetle.
History buffs might already know about Volkswagen’s involvement in World War II, and how in the earliest days of the Kombi’s conception, the German company was still under British military supervision.
When the very first model was released in 1950, it was intended as a delivery and transport vehicle, and although the van is commonly known as the Kombi these days, its was officially dubbed the Volkswagen Type 2 (the VW Beetle being the Volkswagen Type 1).
It didn’t take long for the Kombi to gain notoriety and its diversity began.
Kombis were designed as ice cream vans, ambulances, and flat-bed trucks, in addition to being used as commercial passenger vehicles (primarily as taxis) in some parts of the world such as Brazil where the ‘Lotação’ Kombi variant was produced until 1975.
It was during the Kombi’s meteoric rise in the 1950s that the van also started being used as a tourist vehicle. The 1951 ‘Samba’ variant – with its bi-parting doors, 23 windows and optional fabric sunroof – was marketed specifically as a vehicle to travel the Alps.
Other variants such as the ‘Westfalia’ were designed for campers, and included features such as curtains, electric hook-ups, water storage, cabinets, an ice box, and an optional pop-up roof.