Production of the iconic Volkswagen Kombi has come to an end after 63 continuous years.
Brazil was the last country to build the affordable and much-loved ‘freedom bus’, famous for transporting surfers, musicians, hippies and nomads around the world for the last six decades.
New laws that come into effect in 2014 prohibit new cars from being sold in Brazil that are not fitted with Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS) and airbags, effectively ending the Kombi’s reign on December 31, 2013.
Volkswagen decided that the cost of adapting the 63-year-old design to accommodate ABS and airbags was prohibitive, and the Brazilian arm released the Kombi Last Edition in preparation for the model’s farewell.
The Last Edition was limited to 600 units, available in an exclusive blue and white paint finish with blue curtains and a blue and white vinyl interior along with white-wall tyres.
But reports out of the US suggest the champaign corks signalling the beginning of 2014 may not signal the end for the Kombi after all.
According to Reuters, a public backlash and economic fears over the additional cost of compulsory ABS and airbags in new vehicles has prompted the Brazilian government to act.
Import duty on ABS and airbag components may be cut from between 14 and 18 percent to just two percent in order to keep the price-rise down, and the Kombi in its current form may be granted an exemption from the new laws altogether.
Such a backflip would mean that production of the Kombi could continue as before, but as facilities have already wound-down in preparation for the model’s demise, it may be too late (or too expensive for Volkswagen) to revive the Kombi production line.
Volkswagen did build a potential Kombi replacement in the Bulli Concept in 2011, but it’s believed the German carmaker has no plans to build a production-version of the concept in the near future.