Automotive

In photos: Camper vans pop up at the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show

In photos: Camper vans pop up ...
Seeing the VW California XXL concept in person made us even more curious about why Volkswagen chose to use a shorter wheelbase Crafter and extend out the bodywork up top – it's not exactly a looker
Seeing the VW California XXL concept in person made us even more curious about why Volkswagen chose to use a shorter wheelbase Crafter and extend out the bodywork up top – it's not exactly a looker
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The SpaceTourer Rip Curl Concept is Citroën's idea of a small camper van designed for scouting breaks
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The SpaceTourer Rip Curl Concept is Citroën's idea of a small camper van designed for scouting breaks
Citroën shows the SpaceTourer Rip Curl camper van concept
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Citroën shows the SpaceTourer Rip Curl camper van concept
The SpaceTourer Rip Curl represents a team-up between Citroën, surf wear specialist Rip Curl, camper van converter Pössl and 4x4 shop Automobiles Dangel
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The SpaceTourer Rip Curl represents a team-up between Citroën, surf wear specialist Rip Curl, camper van converter Pössl and 4x4 shop Automobiles Dangel
The SpaceTourer Rip Curl concept's interior includes a kitchen unit, removable table, rail-mounted seats and a pop-up roof
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The SpaceTourer Rip Curl concept's interior includes a kitchen unit, removable table, rail-mounted seats and a pop-up roof
Citroën has included technologies like a head-up display and infotainment/nav system
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Citroën has included technologies like a head-up display and infotainment/nav system
The SpaceTourer Rip Curl's pop-up roof doubles as a surfboard rack
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The SpaceTourer Rip Curl's pop-up roof doubles as a surfboard rack
The SpaceTourer Rip Curl represents a team-up between Citroën, surf wear specialist Rip Curl, camper van converter Pössl and 4x4 shop Automobiles Dangel
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The SpaceTourer Rip Curl represents a team-up between Citroën, surf wear specialist Rip Curl, camper van converter Pössl and 4x4 shop Automobiles Dangel
The SpaceTourer Rip Curl concept's rear includes an outdoor shower
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The SpaceTourer Rip Curl concept's rear includes an outdoor shower
Inside the Citroën SpaceTourer Rip Curl concept
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Inside the Citroën SpaceTourer Rip Curl concept
The rear outdoor shower of the SpaceTourer Rip Curl concept can clean people, surfboards and more
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The rear outdoor shower of the SpaceTourer Rip Curl concept can clean people, surfboards and more
The SpaceTourer's kitchen can also pop out and be used outside
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The SpaceTourer's kitchen can also pop out and be used outside
Interior controls in the SpaceTourer Rip Curl concept
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Interior controls in the SpaceTourer Rip Curl concept
The SpaceTourer Rip Curl's kitchen includes a stove and a sink
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The SpaceTourer Rip Curl's kitchen includes a stove and a sink
No indoor/outdoor refrigerator like on the TouRig TerraCamper, but the SpaceTourer RipCurl has indoor/outdoor access to the water and storage compartment
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No indoor/outdoor refrigerator like on the TouRig TerraCamper, but the SpaceTourer RipCurl has indoor/outdoor access to the water and storage compartment
Inside the driver cab of the Citroën SpaceTourer Rip Curl concept
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Inside the driver cab of the Citroën SpaceTourer Rip Curl concept
More than just a show car, the Citroën SpaceTourer Rip Curl will go on tour with the Rip Curl team between October 2017 and January 2018
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More than just a show car, the Citroën SpaceTourer Rip Curl will go on tour with the Rip Curl team between October 2017 and January 2018
Citroën SpaceTourer Rip Curl concept at IAA 2017
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Citroën SpaceTourer Rip Curl concept at IAA 2017
With its rear bed and swivel seats, the Opel Vivaro Life leisure van provides a comfortable place to spend the night
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With its rear bed and swivel seats, the Opel Vivaro Life leisure van provides a comfortable place to spend the night
The Opel Vivaro Life includes second-row swivel seats
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The Opel Vivaro Life includes second-row swivel seats
Opel adds a third option to its Vivaro passenger van line: the Life leisure van
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Opel adds a third option to its Vivaro passenger van line: the Life leisure van
The Opel Vivaro Life's options list includes a folding table and auxiliary heater
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The Opel Vivaro Life's options list includes a folding table and auxiliary heater
The Vivaro Life van from Opel, whose Russelsheim production operations are just a few train stops away from Frankfurt's main station
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The Vivaro Life van from Opel, whose Russelsheim production operations are just a few train stops away from Frankfurt's main station
Opel Vivaro Life premiere at IAA 2017
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Opel Vivaro Life premiere at IAA 2017
The folding rear bed makes the Vivaro Life an overnighter
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The folding rear bed makes the Vivaro Life an overnighter
The Vivaro Life can be equipped with various infotainment systems, including the Navi 80 Intellilink with real-time traffic and 7-in color touchscreen
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The Vivaro Life can be equipped with various infotainment systems, including the Navi 80 Intellilink with real-time traffic and 7-in color touchscreen
The Vivaro Life includes six-way adjustable front seats with armrests and lumbar support
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The Vivaro Life includes six-way adjustable front seats with armrests and lumbar support
Firestone karaoke van at IAA 2017
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Firestone karaoke van at IAA 2017
Firestone Music Tour 2017 bus
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Firestone Music Tour 2017 bus
Hot off its Düsseldorf Caravan Salon world premiere, the Volkswagen California XXL concept camper shows up in Frankfurt 
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Hot off its Düsseldorf Caravan Salon world premiere, the Volkswagen California XXL concept camper shows up in Frankfurt 
Seeing the VW California XXL concept in person made us even more curious about why Volkswagen chose to use a shorter wheelbase Crafter and extend out the bodywork up top – it's not exactly a looker
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Seeing the VW California XXL concept in person made us even more curious about why Volkswagen chose to use a shorter wheelbase Crafter and extend out the bodywork up top – it's not exactly a looker
The California XXL's elongated bodywork makes room for the rear bedroom
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The California XXL's elongated bodywork makes room for the rear bedroom
Volkswagen shows the California XXL concept in Frankfurt
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Volkswagen shows the California XXL concept in Frankfurt
A look inside the California XXL's rear window shows the rear bed and projector TV
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A look inside the California XXL's rear window shows the rear bed and projector TV
A view through the VW California XXL's rear window
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A view through the VW California XXL's rear window
Both the California XXL's front seats swivel around to face the back, though only the passenger seat is swiveled back here
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Both the California XXL's front seats swivel around to face the back, though only the passenger seat is swiveled back here
At the table in the Volkswagen California XXL camper van concept
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At the table in the Volkswagen California XXL camper van concept
The California XXL includes a dining and lounge area with built-in coffeemaker and control tablet
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The California XXL includes a dining and lounge area with built-in coffeemaker and control tablet
A look at the VW California XXL's kitchen area
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A look at the VW California XXL's kitchen area
Volkswagen has equipped its concept camper with a stove with retractable burners, allowing the stove to double as a smooth worktop
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Volkswagen has equipped its concept camper with a stove with retractable burners, allowing the stove to double as a smooth worktop
The burners extend and retract at the push of the buttons on the edge
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The burners extend and retract at the push of the buttons on the edge
When the burners are retracted, the stove has a flat surface that can work as a countertop
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When the burners are retracted, the stove has a flat surface that can work as a countertop
Inside the VW California XXL camper
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Inside the VW California XXL camper
The California XXL's floor panel slides with the extendable bathroom, replacing kitchen floor with drain-integrated wet bath floor
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The California XXL's floor panel slides with the extendable bathroom, replacing kitchen floor with drain-integrated wet bath floor
The California XXL's bathroom cabinet includes a swing out vanity mirror 
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The California XXL's bathroom cabinet includes a swing out vanity mirror 
The California XXL bathroom has a toilet and fold-down sink
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The California XXL bathroom has a toilet and fold-down sink
Both the faucet and sink itself fold back to provide access to the toilet below
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Both the faucet and sink itself fold back to provide access to the toilet below
VW California XXL bathroom sink and faucet folded down and ready for use
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VW California XXL bathroom sink and faucet folded down and ready for use
The California XXL concept includes a full glass roof and upper alcove sleeping area
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The California XXL concept includes a full glass roof and upper alcove sleeping area
The California XXL's glass roof provides views of the starry night sky (or the Frankfurt exhibit hall lights)
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The California XXL's glass roof provides views of the starry night sky (or the Frankfurt exhibit hall lights)
This swing-up panel in the California XXL serves as a kitchen countertop extension when down and a privacy divider when up. In the latter configuration, it works with the pull-out bathroom to separate the rear bedroom from the living area
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This swing-up panel in the California XXL serves as a kitchen countertop extension when down and a privacy divider when up. In the latter configuration, it works with the pull-out bathroom to separate the rear bedroom from the living area
VW California XXL fridge drawer
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VW California XXL fridge drawer
The California XXL's living area has a built-in coffeemaker
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The California XXL's living area has a built-in coffeemaker
The VW California XXL concept's control tablet provides monitoring and control of onboard systems
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The VW California XXL concept's control tablet provides monitoring and control of onboard systems
Monitoring storage capacities on the California XXL concept
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Monitoring storage capacities on the California XXL concept
Controlling the California XXL's heated/cooled bed
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Controlling the California XXL's heated/cooled bed
Controlling entertainment on the California XXL concept
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Controlling entertainment on the California XXL concept
Not quite a camper van yet, but the Volkswagen I.D. Buzz will certainly lead to some camper conversions when it becomes a production van
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Not quite a camper van yet, but the Volkswagen I.D. Buzz will certainly lead to some camper conversions when it becomes a production van
Will the I.D. Buzz production van become the classic electric camper van in the future the way the original Type 2 has long been the classic ICE camper van?
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Will the I.D. Buzz production van become the classic electric camper van in the future the way the original Type 2 has long been the classic ICE camper van?
VW's I.D. Buzz concept includes a sliding, rail-mounted console with removable speakers. While unlikely to make it to production, it could certainly be useful in a camper van version
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VW's I.D. Buzz concept includes a sliding, rail-mounted console with removable speakers. While unlikely to make it to production, it could certainly be useful in a camper van version
Like the California XXL, the I.D. Buzz has plenty of glass in the roof
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Like the California XXL, the I.D. Buzz has plenty of glass in the roof
A look at the I.D. Buzz's cozy cabin bench
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A look at the I.D. Buzz's cozy cabin bench
The SpaceTourer Rip Curl's removable kitchen works indoors and out
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The SpaceTourer Rip Curl's removable kitchen works indoors and out
The Dangel 4x4 system gives the SpaceTourer Rip Curl the grip it needs to explore off-road destinations
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The Dangel 4x4 system gives the SpaceTourer Rip Curl the grip it needs to explore off-road destinations
The SpaceTourer Rip Curl has a pop-up roof bed and folding seat bed
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The SpaceTourer Rip Curl has a pop-up roof bed and folding seat bed
The VW California XXL Concept includes a full glass roof
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The VW California XXL Concept includes a full glass roof
The VW California tailgate holds a set of chairs
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The VW California tailgate holds a set of chairs
A sketch of the VW California XXL interior
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A sketch of the VW California XXL interior
The Opel Vivaro Life in seven-seater configuration
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The Opel Vivaro Life in seven-seater configuration
With the two-seat front passenger bench, the Vivaro Life carries a total of eight people
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With the two-seat front passenger bench, the Vivaro Life carries a total of eight people
The second-row seats on the Opel Vivaro Life leisure van swivel around
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The second-row seats on the Opel Vivaro Life leisure van swivel around
The fold-out rear bed gives the Vivaro Life overnighting capabilities
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The fold-out rear bed gives the Vivaro Life overnighting capabilities
The Vivaro Life's optional folding table provides space to work, play and dine
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The Vivaro Life's optional folding table provides space to work, play and dine
Rear bed in the Opel Vivaro Life 
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Rear bed in the Opel Vivaro Life 
Rear bed in the Opel Vivaro Life 
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Rear bed in the Opel Vivaro Life 
Camping inside the Opel Vivaro Life
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Camping inside the Opel Vivaro Life
Opel Vivaro Life
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Opel Vivaro Life
View gallery - 76 images

After the Düsseldorf Caravan Salon hosted several debuts from major auto (van) manufacturers just a couple weeks ago, we weren't too surprised to see a couple of camper vans at last week's Frankfurt Motor Show. What we were surprised to see were those campers being joined by brand-new world premieres that weren't a part of the festivities in Düsseldorf. From the innovative, futuristic Volkswagen California XXL, to the compact-but-functional Citroën SpaceTourer Rip Curl Concept, IAA 2017 had a few very intriguing camper vans to look over, which is exactly what we did, inside and out.

Volkswagen California XXL Concept

The Crafter-based California XXL Concept was one of the A-list stars of the Düsseldorf caravan show, and we were excited to step aboard and go hands on in Frankfurt. The first thing that becomes clear – or clearer – when approaching the California XXL is that the extended bodywork on the upper half of the van coupled with the high roof makes for a bloated, top-heavy look. We appreciate that the extra space was needed for everything VW wanted to do inside but still question why VW didn't just slide a longer-wheelbase Crafter under the concept camper, given that it has them in its van stable.

The California XXL's elongated bodywork makes room for the rear bedroom
The California XXL's elongated bodywork makes room for the rear bedroom

That said, the roomy interior doesn't disappoint. The light colors and full-glass roof make for an open, spacious feel supported by innovative structural features like the slide-out bathroom, which works easily and smoothly. The extendable stove burners also work easily at the push of a button, just as simply retracting into the stove body to create a flat central countertop complemented by a countertop extension to the left and a hinged countertop panel at the right that can also be positioned upright to work with the pull-out bathroom as a privacy divider wall.

A look inside the California XXL's rear window shows the rear bed and projector TV
A look inside the California XXL's rear window shows the rear bed and projector TV

The interior control tablet app was either locked or just a mockup, so we only got to flip through menus and not actually control the music, lighting, etc., but it was easy to see how such an app could bring intuitive, smart home-like control to a van interior. All in all, the California XXL is as impressive in person as it is on paper, bringing some intriguing ideas to van living. Hopefully VW follows through with a production Crafter California, even if that van loses some of the less practical features of the concept.

Citroën SpaceTourer Rip Curl Concept

While VW explored a larger California, Citroën used Frankfurt to show a very attractive alternative to the traditional, beach-cruising Transporter-based California, and it did a nice job preparing a compelling, compact 4WD pop-top van. The SpaceTourer Rip Curl concept is a cozy little camper van, no matter whether you want to explore the coast, mountains or desert.

More than just a show car, the Citroën SpaceTourer Rip Curl will go on tour with the Rip Curl team between October 2017 and January 2018
More than just a show car, the Citroën SpaceTourer Rip Curl will go on tour with the Rip Curl team between October 2017 and January 2018

Relying on Pössl's expertise in designing purposeful, multifunctional SpaceTourer campers has clearly paid off in a van that hauls people and gear, provides a comfy night of sleep upstairs and downstairs, cooks meals, and washes gear, people and dishes. The indoor/outdoor kitchen block and dining table add versatility, and the surfboard holder in the ceiling of the pop-up roof provides a nice finishing touch. The van has all-terrain capabilities thanks to a 4x4 system from Automobiles Dangel.

The SpaceTourer Rip Curl concept's interior includes a kitchen unit, removable table, rail-mounted seats and a pop-up roof
The SpaceTourer Rip Curl concept's interior includes a kitchen unit, removable table, rail-mounted seats and a pop-up roof

The SpaceTourer Rip Curl seems too intriguing a conversion to be just a show van, and thankfully it won't be limited to indoor exhibitions – it has already gotten some time on the road and will continue to do so when it travels with the Rip Curl surf team starting next month. We don't expect Citroën or its partners to offer this particular camper van package, but the Pössl Campster offers consumers an equally smart, savvy SpaceTourer camping experience with pop-up roof and removable kitchen.

Opel Vivaro Life

We were surprised to see the Opel Vivaro Life debut in Frankfurt and not Düsseldorf, but maybe Opel figured it's less a camper van and more a people hauler with overnighting capabilities. Plus the brand's Russelsheim headquarters is located right inside the greater Frankfurt area, a fact we were reminded of every day as the train stopped at the Russelsheim, Opelwerk station on our journey to and from the show.

Opel adds a third option to its Vivaro passenger van line: the Life leisure van
Opel adds a third option to its Vivaro passenger van line: the Life leisure van

The Vivaro Life adds a third option to the Vivaro passenger van lineup, joining the Tourer and Combi+. The Life doesn't have the amenities or smart, multipurpose packaging of the California XXL or SpaceTourer Rip Curl, but it's meant to be more of a leisure van in line with VW's production California Beach. And it's a real product, not a concept.

The folding rear bed makes the Vivaro Life an overnighter
The folding rear bed makes the Vivaro Life an overnighter

With no kitchen or cabinetry getting in the way, the Vivaro Life seats seven or eight people comfortably on a combination of its front and second-row seats and rear bench. The two second-row seats swivel around to face the rear bench, which can slide forward or back. An optional folding table completes the cabin dining/lounge area, and the rear bench folds down to create the bed. LED ambient lighting and passenger area USB and 220V outlets round out the leisure van interior and help it double as a functional work space. Tinted windows and auxiliary heat are available optionally.

We didn't see pop-up roof or tailgate tent options, so the Vivaro Life will drive many more people than it will sleep, but carry a separate ground tent or two, let the most finicky campers sleep in the van, and you can sleep your whole crew in comfort.

The photos tell the whole story better than we can, and we've captured the ins and outs of each camper. See those photos, along with some of a few other leisure vans, in our full photo gallery.

View gallery - 76 images
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