The long, strange trip isn’t over yet.
Reports of the death of the Volkswagen Microbus may not have been greatly exaggerated, but they could turn out to be premature.
The 63-year-old VW Type 2 van is still in production in Brazil, where it is sold as the Kombi, but is scheduled to be discontinued when the factory that makes it shuts down for the holidays on December 20th.
A decision driven by upcoming safety regulations going into effect next year requiring anti-lock brakes and airbags on all new vehicles.
Even though the old girl was updated with a modern, liquid-cooled engine a few years back to bring its emissions up to snuff, she just isn’t equipped to accommodate the modern safety equipment. But maybe she won’t have to.
Brazil had been considering putting off the rules for at least two years due to the increased costs faced by automakers to meet them, but apparently decided to push ahead.
However, Reuters reports that Finance Minister Guido Mantega is looking to make an exception for the Kombi due to its iconic status in Brazil.
When asked by FoxNews.com last week if VW plans to continue production if the regulations are altered in the Kombi’s favor, a company representative would only say “that Volkswagen do Brasil fully meets the current legislation and the company will follow any new rule that could be applied to the automotive industry.”
VW currently builds about 241 Kombis a day. In preparation for its retirement, the automaker is producing 1,200 “Last Edition” models that sell for about $36,000, and could end up being collector’s items even if the van gets a reprieve.
Will it be a very Merry Christmas for Kombi?
A final decision from the government is expected on December 23rd.