The Volkswagen California is a campervan based on the Transporter by Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles (VWCV). It is the first campervan designed and built in-house by VWCV Special Business Unit, a subsidiary of Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles.
Westfalia was the Official Manufacturer of motorhomes for VW and every Westfalia camper could only be manufactured by Volkswagen. When the Westfalia-company was bought by DaimlerChrysler in 2001, VW decided to design and build their own campervan range, based on the Transporter range. Volkswagen original camper van was called the “Volkswagen Westfalia” before Westfalia became it own company in 2005, though VW continued to call it the “Westfalia California” until 2012.
The Westfalia California was launched in August 2003. In 2004 two design studies were presented at the Caravan Salon in Düsseldorf: California Beach and California Tramper. VWCV expanded the range in 2005 with the California (Multivan/Kombi) Beach, to bridge the gap between the Multivan/Kombi people carriers and the California. By 2005, people could place an order for delivery of the Westfalia California.
At the 2007 Caravan Salon in Düsseldorf, VWCV launched the new Westfalia California Beach with pop top bed, as seen in the higher specified versions of the California range. In 2013, under the launch of the T5.1 (T5 facelift) Volkswagen shortened the name of the vehicle to the “Volkswagen California.” They also introduced two new versions of their new van, “California Tramper” and “California Beach." In 2016, VW reintroduced the California for the launch of the new T6, VW also changed the tramper into the “California Ocean” with the “California Beach” continued. In 2019, the T6.1 California was launched at Düsseldorf with a third model coming out. The “California Coast” was introduced as a halfway line between the “California Ocean” and “California Beach.” In 2022, the Coast variant of the California range was dropped across all worldwide markets. The T7 Multivan also went on general release but without a California model. The next iteration of the California will instead be based on the ID Buzz platform, of which the base vehicle is to be launched in 2023.
At the International Motor Show 2017, a VW California XXL study was presented on the basis of the VW Crafter. The 6.2 m long vehicle has a standing height of 2.2 m and is equipped with underfloor heating. The series model VW Grand California went on sale in 2019.
VW California (Multivan/Kombi) Beach specs & features
- ABS brakes
- Acceleration Slip Regulator (ASR) - a traction control system
- cruise control
- air conditioning
- power front windows
- heated doors and mirrors
- remote central locking
- CD player with 6 speakers
- alloy wheels with full size spares
- dimmable dashboard illumination
- storage nets
The "Good Night Package" comes with curtains, and the ability to fold the seats into a bed for two.
A folding table integrated within the sliding door is able to be used outside and inside with two folding chairs.
California Beach now has the option of the elevating "pop top" aluminium roof, with bed space of 120x200cm in Germany.
Models that the Westfalia and California comes as
- T1 Westfalia (1955-1964)
- T2 Westfalia (1965-1979)
- T3 Westfalia (1979-1991)
- T4 Westfalia California (1992-2005)
- T5 California (2005-2010)
- T5.1 California (2010-2015)
- T6 California (2016-2019)
- T6.1 California (2019-Present)
- ID Buzz California (2025 - Only as the long wheel base, LWB, vehicle)
VW California specs & features
In 2015, following the launch of the T6 Transporter, a new version of the VW California was released to replace the older T5 version. Notable changes to the later models include a re-styled grille as well as re-designed headlamps and wing mirrors. There were three equipment levels in this lineup, including the T6 Ocean, the T6 Coast and the T6 Beach.
VW continued to update the VW California and in September 2019 the California T6.1 was released. This featured a restyled front and interior cabinets. The fragile concertina style tambour doors on the previous Ocean & Coast models were replaced with tougher rigid doors. The biggest changes were to the steering, VW completely replaced the system with an electronic fly-by-wire installation, giving a lighter feel and also allowing more driver assistance features such as lane assist and cross-wind assist to be introduced. In 2025, Volkswagen will launch two new versions of the California. The first being the new T7 which is being sold as the Multivan in Europe after it was launched in mid 2021, however Volkswagen announced there wouldn’t be a California version as it is too short. Instead will be based on the new all electric people carrier based on the original T1 minivan called the ID Buzz. The ID Buzz California will only come as a long wheel base (LWB), vehicle. The Buzz will be able to come as the same versions as before California Beach, California Coast or California Ocean.
The California Ocean comes with an electro-hydraulically elevating aluminium roof with bed space of 200x120cm. The rear seating in the California Ocean can be arranged to make lower level double bed measuring 200x116cm. The Coast and Beach comes with a manual elevating aluminium roof held up on gas struts with the bed being the exact same measurement. Whilst on the Beach as the 5 seater configuration the bottom bed measures 200x120cm. The 4 seater is exact the same but the third seat is replaced with two big chest cupboards (This was made standard on the T6.1 but wasn’t widely available on the T6). The T6.1 Beach also has a tour version which seats up to 7 seater people carrier/Campervan crossover.
In the Coast and Ocean models the kitchen comprises a sink, a two burner gas cooktop powered by a 2.8 kg gas cylinder, a 42-litre compressor fridge, two kitchen storage cupboards with drawers integrated in the design are also standard. Whereas, in the T6.1 Beach Camper model there is a pull out cooker which has a single burner hob and a small preparation zone. The 6.1 Beach Tour doesn’t come with a kitchen but has sliding doors on both sides.
A standard fitment twin water tanks both hold 30 litres of water, one for drinking water, the other for foul/waste water. There is an optional 250 cm awning which mounts above the sliding door, and a foldaway table is stored in the sliding door and two chairs are hidden in the tailgate hatch.
- satellite navigation system
- 3 Zone climatic air conditioner
- Alcantara and leather upholstery
- single seat for living area
- parking sensors for front and rear
- rain sensing wipers
- auto dimming rear view mirror
- headlamp washers
- electric sliding door and tailgate
- privacy glass for rear
- removable towbar
- 2 tone paintwork
- 4motion four-wheel drive system
VW Grand California
The Grand California is based on the Volkswagen Crafter and it comes in two versions, a short wheel base 600 or long wheel base 680, with the van being able to sleep up to four people. However, unlike the standard California, it can only sleep two adults on the bottom bed and the top bed is only big enough for two children therefore making it a family van. Unlike the standard California this van has a built in bathroom which contains a toilet with a disposable tank, a sink which doubles up as the shower, two sided mirror which opens up to create cupboard space and hooks for towels. At the front, the van has two captains chairs and a double bench seat with a dining table to make a living room, a kitchen with two burner hob, sink, pull out fridge drawer, storage cupboards two pull out extra preparation desk including a fold down panel for the outside where two USB ports and a socket are housed for outdoor use. In the rear of the van on the rear doors there are two compartments where the outdoor table and chairs are stored, the rear bed also on both side has two cupboards, as well as the shower in the bathroom it comes with an outdoor shower. An awning is optional unlike the standard California. The Grand California comes with the same engines that you can option on the crafter van, the blinds and fly screens are available on all of the rear windows, but the front windows come with magnetic blinds.
The Caddy California is the new smaller version for the California collection. The Caddy California is based on the new Caddy 5 van. The Caddy comes as either a short wheel base (SWB) or Maxi (LWB) with five belted passengers. In the main part of the van, there is two front seats a rear three seat bench which folds down to form the bed, then the bed frame and mattress is pulled over the seat and clamped down to form a double bed which measures 200x110cm. An option is to have a sunroof fitted, the rear windows come with two storage bags with two zipped compartments. In the boot the kitchen is situated inside a wooden cabinet with two drawers on it. In the top drawer, there is a single burner hob with a small preparation zone. Next to it there is a zip up cabinet which contains two camping chairs and table. All the blinds are magnetic and stick to all the windows.
ID. Buzz California
In December 2021, Volkswagen announced that it’s next variant will be an all electric California campervan which will be based on the new all electric Volkswagen ID. Buzz which will be on the long wheelbase (LWB) vehicle only.
- California Beach Poptop picture thread at VWwatercooled forum
- VW Grand California Website of the manufacturer. Retrieved July 25, 2019.
- Volkswagen Kombi Beach
- California Beach @ Caravan Salon in Dusseldorf - VWwatercooled Australia
- Volkswagen Driver, November 2006 page 27-30 -UK Publication