car news

Volkswagen California Concept: new generation bus camper

August 25, 2023

Headroom of two meters

A Volkswagen van camper is not a California until it is equipped with a lift roof with a headroom of two meters. This element has been used on all generations since 1988 – from the first California T3 to today’s California 6.1. This is why the California Concept also features the distinctive lifting roof. All traditions aside, the study model makes some great strides in terms of future-proofing and developments. For example, the California Concept features a plug-in hybrid powertrain. The ability to drive electric acts as a bridge to a world of sustainable mobility. Opting for a plug-in hybrid powertrain also provides greater range on long trips.

Living in the wild

The living and kitchen area in the Volkswagen California Concept has undergone a complete makeover. For the first time, it also features a sliding door on the kitchen side. This allows versatile use of the space around the camper van and quite literally adds a new dimension to camping in the great outdoors. Previously, all California models were based on the Transporter series, with the kitchen area extending to the B-pillar of the left side and only a sliding door on the right side functioning as the main entrance. Therefore, the folding camping chairs, folding table and awning were always mounted on the right side of the camper. Thanks to the addition of an additional sliding door on the left side of the Volkswagen California Concept and because the kitchen area is now further back in the interior, the left side of the van can now be opened while camping. This makes the future California more versatile as a motorhome than ever. The California Concept is equipped with an awning on the left side and an awning on the right side, protecting both sides of the camper from sun and rain.

Volkswagen California Concept

Thoughtful three-zone concept

Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles is introducing a three-zone concept for the first time with the California CONCEPT. This offers different exterior and interior scenarios for everyday use, and it greatly expands the California’s usability. 

Zone 1 (outdoors)

The sliding door on the right side of the motorhome creates a safe entry and exit option on the sidewalk side, just like in the current California 6.1. This also makes loading and unloading easy and safe. Once you arrive at the campsite, this area easily transforms into a tent with open sides thanks to the included awning, adding to the feeling of living in the great outdoors.

Zone 2 (indoors)

Behind the height-adjustable front seats – which of course rotate 180 degrees – is a thoughtful passenger compartment for daily use that is based on the flexible interior of the Multivan. This is equipped with individual seats that are lightweight, removable and very comfortable. Thanks to this variable seating arrangement, boards and bikes can now be easily carried. When used as an RV, the seating area of the California CONCEPT can be quickly converted into a flat space for relaxing or transformed into seating for communal meals or games. The sturdy rear seat of the California 6.1 gives way in the California CONCEPT to a variable, individually divisible rear seat with sleeping functions. The seats are upholstered in a hard-wearing and pleasant to the touch fabric in Mélange design.

Zone 3 (outdoors)

Thanks to the additional sliding door on the driver’s side and the newly conceived concept for the placement of the kitchenette and awning, a new kind of outdoor space is created on the left side of the van camper. For everyday use, the second sliding door provides an additional entry and exit or additional loading option for home or grocery store use. While camping, this area also functions as a separate space for cooking, eating and spending long summer evenings under the awning. The zone is created because the kitchen – including the sink, induction cooktop and refrigerator – is now accessible from the outside.

In addition to the 230V induction cooktop, there is also an integrated gas stove, as was the case in previous generations of the California. A 230-volt outlet on the outside of the kitchen and an external folding table are the finishing touches for carefree camping life. Another highlight is the compact grill, which stores in the kitchenette and can also be easily deployed. As in the Volkswagen Crafter-based Grand California, the refrigerator in the California Concept offers practical advantages because it is accessible from the outside and features a drawer. With that, breakfast is on the table in a jiffy. It also allows fresh produce to be loaded directly from the shopping cart into the refrigerator. One thing is certain: the three-zone concept now makes the California an even more versatile Volkswagen van, both for everyday use and camping.

Intelligent interior design

The interior design of the study model has been thought out in great detail and offers a host of new features and benefits. That all starts up front: because the Multivan is equipped with an electronic parking brake instead of a handbrake, the space between the driver and passenger seats can be put to much better use. At the bottom of the height-adjustable swivel chairs are practical drawers, and the individual seats behind them offer additional storage space. Behind the driver or passenger seat, storage space is now also created for essential items, such as a removable dry-compost toilet.

At the top of the kitchen cabinets behind the refrigerator is room for a variety of smaller items. There is also a separate storage space under the extended portion of the bed. The interior is transformed into an atmospheric space by the all-round dimmable lighting in the background and in the roof frame. With a range of available colors, the lighting can be adjusted to suit the individual mood of the occupants. To offer the possibility of creating a pleasant atmosphere even outside the camper, the kitchenette is equipped with an integrated table lamp. For those who want more light, the canopy arms are equipped with switchable LED lights.

Lift roof and high quality roof bed

A van camper from Volkswagen without a lifting roof is unthinkable, and the California Concept is no exception to this rule. The lift roof consists of a lightweight aluminum roof shell and a triple-layered bellows with large panoramic opening at the front. Large windows on the sides offer the most beautiful views. As in all California models, the highest position for the lift roof is at the front. USB-C connectors and LED lighting are included. A high-quality roof bed with spring plates also guarantees a good night’s sleep under the stars. The folding mechanism of the lifting roof can be controlled via the infotainment system or with a paired smartphone.

Cali on Tour

It is also possible to use the tablet present in the California Concept, which is placed near the cabinets at the C-pillar. This contains all functions relevant to camping that can be operated through the touchscreen. It also includes information on fresh water and waste water levels, interior lighting including backlighting, power supply status and refrigerator and supplemental heating. All these functions can also be controlled with a paired smartphone via the “Cali on Tour” app. Furthermore, the infotainment system can also be used to access a slope display that can be used to level the motorhome. Finally, the aforementioned multifunction tablet not only provides information about the vehicle, but also provides entertainment while on the road. For example, it can be swung out on an articulated arm and positioned so that it is easily visible from any position in the RV. Moreover, it can be rotated 90 degrees, so there is nothing in the way of an entertaining evening, where the occupants watch their favorite TV series or movie.

The California CONCEPT shows that Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles is also ready in the near future to accompany enthusiastic campers on all their adventures anywhere in the world. Starting in 2024.

Volkswagen California Concept