Automotive

VW miniaturizes California camper van to create new Caddy mini-camper

VW miniaturizes California cam...
The tent will follow the new Caddy California to market, adding extra sleeping and protected storage
The tent will follow the new Caddy California to market, adding extra sleeping and protected storage
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The redesigned storage case on the passenger side of the load area holds the outdoor table/chair set
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The redesigned storage case on the passenger side of the load area holds the outdoor table/chair set
A new ventilation system puts fly screens over the open front windows
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A new ventilation system puts fly screens over the open front windows
The new Caddy becomes a versatile camper/minivan with the addition of the California package
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The new Caddy becomes a versatile camper/minivan with the addition of the California package
The tent will follow the new Caddy California to market, adding extra sleeping and protected storage
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The tent will follow the new Caddy California to market, adding extra sleeping and protected storage
Inside the inflatable auxiliary tent, which pitches on the Caddy or on its own
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Inside the inflatable auxiliary tent, which pitches on the Caddy or on its own
Rear organizer bags serve as window shades and storage
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Rear organizer bags serve as window shades and storage
The top slide-out includes a single-burner gas stove
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The top slide-out includes a single-burner gas stove
Volkswagen adds a "mini kitchen" to transform the outgoing Caddy Beach sleeper van into a Caddy California camper van
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Volkswagen adds a "mini kitchen" to transform the outgoing Caddy Beach sleeper van into a Caddy California camper van
At just 450 cm long, the new Caddy California is an efficient mini-campervan
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At just 450 cm long, the new Caddy California is an efficient mini-campervan
The VW Caddy California is the compact minivan that doubles as a road trip-ready camper
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The VW Caddy California is the compact minivan that doubles as a road trip-ready camper
Volkswagen will follow the base Caddy California up with a longer wheelbase version
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Volkswagen will follow the base Caddy California up with a longer wheelbase version
The new bed unfolds over the folded rear seats
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The new bed unfolds over the folded rear seats
The Caddy California sleeps two inside
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The Caddy California sleeps two inside
The bed sets up with or without the rear seats, providing added storage space with the rear seats removed
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The bed sets up with or without the rear seats, providing added storage space with the rear seats removed
The available panoramic roof is like a large skylight with views of the stars or blue sky
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The available panoramic roof is like a large skylight with views of the stars or blue sky
The new mattress features springs for extra comfort, bringing comfort level on par with the T6.1 California and Grand California
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The new mattress features springs for extra comfort, bringing comfort level on par with the T6.1 California and Grand California
VW Caddy California mini kitchen
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VW Caddy California mini kitchen
The mini kitchen includes a utensil drawer
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The mini kitchen includes a utensil drawer
VW drops the "Beach" and adds the "California," complete with corresponding upgrades
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VW drops the "Beach" and adds the "California," complete with corresponding upgrades
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It turns out the new Caddy Mini-Camper that VW Commercial Vehicles teased last month isn't actually called "Mini-Camper" at all. Instead, Volkswagen's smallest camper van now wears the classic "California" name, creating a mini-campervan with everything van lifers need to travel, cook, eat and sleep on the journey. The new Caddy also gains an inflatable auxiliary tent for extra sleeping and storage space. VW completes its full spectrum of California camper vans from the extra large Grand California, to the midsize T6.1 California, to the all-new Caddy California — California campin' for every taste and budget.

Besides coordinating the branding of its entire camper van offering, VW's name change from the outgoing Caddy Beach also represents a step up in equipment level. The previous Beach was a sleeper van without a kitchen, but the new Caddy California gets a kitchen all its own. It's not the fold-out side panel kitchen with which VW updated the larger T6.1 California Beach last year, but a simple, straightforward rear slide-out with a single-burner stove and gas canister compartment. The slide-out also includes a utensil drawer and general storage for cooking supplies. It's not the complete sink/stove/fridge slide-out that some other mini-campervans carry, but this "mini kitchen" is enough to bump the Caddy Beach up to proper motorhome classification. It also leaves room to the right for a redesigned carry bag for the available outdoor table and two-chair set.

The mini kitchen includes a utensil drawer
The mini kitchen includes a utensil drawer

Those doing the cooking outside can rely on the open Caddy lift-gate to provide shelter from weather overhead, or they can add the optional annex tent that attaches around the tailgate for protection from additional angles. The modular tent system can be further expanded with a full sleeper tent with vestibule, doubling the Caddy California's sleeping capacity to four people. The tent uses an inflatable "air pole" set-up for quick, easy installation and uses a freestanding design that can be pitched independently of the Caddy van.

Inside, the new Caddy California looks like older Beach models, but there are some changes. The new bed is independent from the three folding rear seats, allowing the seats to be removed for extra cargo space without bringing the bed with them. This adds some space for those using the Caddy California strictly as a two-person camper rig. The bed features integrated springs for extra support and comfort below the 198 x 107-cm (78 x 42-in) three-panel mattress. It folds up behind the rear seats when not in use.

The bed sets up with or without the rear seats, providing added storage space with the rear seats removed
The bed sets up with or without the rear seats, providing added storage space with the rear seats removed

Other new upgrades that should prove welcome at camp include fly screens for the driver and passenger front windows, increasing ventilation without letting pests in, seamlessly dimmable LED lighting over the bed, and storage bags that hang over the rear windows. The van also brings a curtain system for the other windows and windshields.

Beyond California-specific camping upgrades, the new Caddy brings updates to enhance life on the road and/or at the campground. That includes sleek new looks and VW's MQB architecture. An available 1.4-sq-m (15-sq-ft) panoramic glass roof keeps the interior bright during the day and opens up large night-sky views from the bed below. A magnetic curtain covers the glass roof to prevent unwanted morning light.

The available panoramic roof is like a large skylight with views of the stars or blue sky
The available panoramic roof is like a large skylight with views of the stars or blue sky

New Caddy equipment and technologies include optional digital instruments, optional 10-in Discover Pro infotainment/nav system with integrated eSim connectivity, and added driver-assistance features like Travel Assist adaptive cruise control and Trailer Assist. Volkswagen has also developed a new accompanying iPhone/Android "California on Tour" app that combines information about the Caddy California itself with info about campsites, waste disposal sites, leisure activities, camping businesses and other topics of interest to camper van owners. The app is also compatible with other VW camper vans.

Volkswagen will not be attending this year's Düsseldorf Caravan Salon, which starts on Friday. It will instead host a virtual exhibition booth starting that same day, providing opportunities for visitors to tour not only the Caddy California but also the T6.1 California and Grand California lines. A product expert will be available to answer online questions, and VW plans to run the site "well into autumn," so a longer opportunity than a week+ trade show.

Volkswagen adds a "mini kitchen" to transform the outgoing Caddy Beach sleeper van into a Caddy California camper van
Volkswagen adds a "mini kitchen" to transform the outgoing Caddy Beach sleeper van into a Caddy California camper van

The 450-cm (177-in) Caddy California will launch by the end of 2020, with a longer 485-cm (191-in) extended wheelbase version to follow next year. Volkswagen 4Motion all-wheel drive will be an option, and Caddy buyers will choose from a range of turbo-diesel, gas turbo and natural gas turbo engines.

Today's announcement does not include pricing, so we suspect VW will be pushing for another round of media coverage in announcing prices separately ahead of the official launch. For reference, the German-market 2020 Caddy Beach starts at €25,688 (approx. US$30,450) after VAT. We'll report Caddy California prices when we have them.

Source: Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles

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