The world famous VW van has ceased production, though a last-ditch political effort could save it.

With a series of new car safety measures from the Brazilian government scheduled to go into effect January 1, Volkswagen's famous Type 2 van—known in Latin America as the Kombi—will no longer be produced after 56 years. But there may be one last glimmer of hope.

The iconic bread loaf-looking van, in continuous production at a plant just outside São Paulo since 1957, has never come with airbags or anti-lock brakes due to design constraints. After Brazil approved legislation requiring all vehicles made in the country to come with standard safety features starting next year, Volkswagen decided not to modify the Kombi. Instead, the carmaker announced it would be producing 1,200 special "Last Edition" versions of the van. For nearly twice the usual cost. 

According to a Telegraph report however, Brazil’s finance minister is looking into a possible exemption that would allow the Kombi to resume production.

For most North Americans and Europeans, the Kombi is associated with hippies or camping, but in Brazil, it has long been the country's favorite utility vehicle, serving as ambulances, school buses, newsstands, food trucks, really anything that requires wheels and a lot of space. Volkswagen often pitched the Kombi to Brazilians through targeted commercials:

While a Brazilian auto blog had originally reported that Volkswagen may decide to add the new safety features after all, the German company issued a statement saying that if the exemption is passed, the company would reconsider killing off the van. A final decision is scheduled to come down today.

A 2013 "Last Edition" model of Volkswagen's Kombi minibus is displayed at the VW plant in Sao Bernardo do Campo December 9, 2013. (REUTERS/Paulo Whitaker)
People eat near a sushi bar adapted inside a Volkswagen Kombi minibus in Sao Paulo September 30, 2013. (REUTERS/Paulo Whitaker) 
A man unloads cardboard boxes from his Volkswagen Kombi minibus for recycling in Sao Paulo October 1, 2013. (REUTERS/Paulo Whitaker)
Various models of Volkswagen's Kombi minibus are displayed during a Kombi fan club meeting in Sao Bernardo do Campo December 8, 2013. (REUTERS/Paulo Whitaker)
A boy pulls along his Volkswagen Kombi toy during a Kombi fan club meeting in Sao Bernardo do Campo December 8, 2013. (REUTERS/Paulo Whitaker)

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Multicolored maps of Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Tampa, denoting neighborhood fragmentation

    Urban Neighborhoods, Once Distinct by Race and Class, Are Blurring

    Yet in cities, affluent white neighborhoods and high-poverty black ones are outliers, resisting the fragmentation shown with other types of neighborhoods.

  2. A photo of a new subdivision under construction in South Jordan, Utah.

    A Red-State Take on a YIMBY Housing Bill

    Utah’s SB 34, aimed at increasing the state’s supply of affordable housing, may hold lessons for booming cities of the Mountain West, and beyond.

  3. Design

    A History of the American Public Library

    A visual exploration of how a critical piece of social infrastructure came to be.

  4. Design

    The Curious Politics of a Montreal Mega-Mall

    The car-dependent suburb it’ll be built in wants to greenlight Royalmount against the city government’s wishes but it needs them to pay for the public infrastructure.

  5. Design

    There’s a Tile Theft Epidemic in Lisbon

    With a single azulejo fetching hundreds of euros at the city’s more reputable antique stores, these tiles, sitting there out in the open, are easy pickings.