Our initial glimpse of Volkswagen’s upcoming campervan based on the T7 platform hints at a plug-in hybrid powertrain.
Volkswagen is set to reveal the new California Concept on August 25 at the Caravan Salon trade fair in Dusseldorf. This concept offers a sneak peek at the forthcoming Multivan T7-based production model scheduled for 2024. While a single sketch was officially released by VW, our eagle-eyed spy photographers managed to capture the uncamouflaged camper during testing, providing an early look at its exterior design ahead of the official unveiling.
Understandably, no rational camper owner would take their California to the Nurburgring. However, VW’s engineers had to put the new variant’s handling capabilities to the test before it enters production. The prototype, painted in black, boasts several enhancements over the standard Multivan T7, tailoring it for camping adventures.
Exterior modifications primarily center around the roof extension, featuring a pop-up tent and expandable awnings on both sides. Naturally, the campervan is built upon the long-wheelbase Multivan T7, maximizing the benefits of its 5,173 mm (203.7 inches) extended body. Interestingly, the prototype appears production-ready, showcasing slightly smaller alloy wheels and chrome accents around the bodywork. This suggests that the concept will closely resemble the final product.
The heavily tinted windows prevent a sneak peek into the interior, a desirable trait in a campervan. The cabin is anticipated to be fully equipped with amenities for cooking, dining, sleeping, and relaxation, along with ample storage compartments. VW’s sketches hinted at a tablet-style touchscreen providing access to various controls such as temperature and lighting. The exact sleeping capacity of the California Concept remains uncertain, but it’s estimated to comfortably accommodate anywhere between 2 to 4 individuals, thanks to the inclusion of a pop-up roof.
Volkswagen has confirmed that the MQB-based California Concept will be equipped with a plug-in hybrid powertrain. This setup enables silent zero-emission travel within campgrounds, reserving the gasoline tank for longer journeys without requiring frequent charging stops.
The current Multivan T7 eHybrid (PHEV) is outfitted with a 1.4 TSI petrol engine, a 6-speed DSG transmission, a sole electric motor, and a 10.4 kWh battery. It remains to be seen if the California Concept will adopt the newer configuration featuring the 1.5 TSI engine, a 7-speed DSG, a single motor, and a larger 18.5 kWh lithium-ion battery pack. This upgraded battery, also found in PHEV versions of the upcoming next-generation Tiguan and Passat, promises a significantly extended electric range of approximately 100 km (62 miles) between charges.
The introduction of the California Concept coincides with the celebration of the nameplate’s 35th anniversary. The T7 PHEV will join the California family, which includes the similarly-sized T6.1, the compact Caddy, and the larger Crafter. Following the debut of its first electrified campervan in 2024, VW’s focus will shift to the forthcoming fully electric ID.Buzz California, anticipated to make its debut in the latter half of the decade.