Word on the street for a few years is that Volkswagen could be mulling over the return of the VW Thing.
For several years, Volkswagen has been hinting that the company might bring back Kübelwagen, aka the VW Thing.
The Kübelwagen started out as the German equivalent of the American Willys Jeep but disappeared in 1983.
Former VW chief Herbert Diess has suggested in the past that the company’s MEB (Modular Electrification Toolkit) battery-electric architecture could be the perfect platform to revive the Thing and other favorite “emotional” VWs.
Utilitarian vehicles are top sellers in the automobile market overall so reviving both the Kübelwagen (the Thing) and the VW dune buggy might make sense eventually.
“MEB is flexible—rear-wheel drive, front-wheel drive, all-wheel drive—and we have so many emotional concepts,” Diess told the media at the time. “I don’t know if you remember the Kübelwagen. This Thing is a nice car. Then there are all the buggies, the kit cars. We have the bus. We have various derivatives of the bus. We have so many exciting concepts in our history that we don’t have to do a Beetle.”
VW is already working on the MEB-based electric van inspired by its original Microbus and the resulting ID Buzz is set to hit American markets in the coming year or two.
You may also like: VW and Amazon’s Test Drive For The ID.4 All Electric SUV
Volkswagen has built two generations of the Volkswagen Thing (Kübelwagen) including the World War II–era Type 82.
That’s unlikely the same model Diess was referring to when he spoke of a revival.
Instead, he’s probably talking about the Wolfsburg designed the user-friendlier Type 181 that was built for the West German military from 1968 to 1983.
In 1973, the United States received a civilian version of the rear-wheel-drive four-door convertible and it was soon called the Thing. It was dubbed the Trekker in the apparently less groovy U.K., the Safari in Mexico, and the Kurierwagen in Germany.
The original, Porsche-designed Type 82 was built on the original Beetle architecture. But the later Kübelwagen that became the Thing employed the platform of the Karmann Ghia coupe due to its wider dimensions.
Last year, VW registered an ‘e-Thing’ trademark at the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO).
Volkswagen Group has also registered an ‘e-Safari’ trademark.
By 2027, the VW ID. line-up could include everything from a city car to a three-row SUV, aka the ID.6 – along with various offbeat models such as the Microbus and Thing.
The VW 181, or ‘VW Thing’ as Americans recall it fondly, turned 50 in 2019.
VW has said it is seeking “fascinating” models to invigorate the ID. family of next-gen electric cars.
The Thing holds a special place in the heart of the Volkswagen Group, Diess has noted, as well as in the hearts of the public.
If re-introduced, the Thing may be offered in single-motor RWD and dual-motor e-AWD variants, according to sources cited in the media.
While the original Thing had an easy-folding PVC top, the next-gen could feature an electrically foldable roof made of new-age material that is sustainable.
Before the Volkswagen Thing EV is released, VW may bring two electric convertible cars that are simpler to manufacture and pose a greater sales potential.
Depending on sales of these two convertibles and the VW ID. Buzz Volkswagen would make the decision of whether to produce the more esoteric/niche model, like the Thing/Kubelwagen.
Either way, the future of VW – and the automobile industry in general – is electric.
President Joe Biden has proposed a $.75 billion investment towards America’s transition to EVs via strong EV charging infrastructure. As a result, Volkswagen Group is relooking at its EV strategy for the U.S.
Interested in the latest EVs in Volkswagen? Explore the VW Marin EV inventory below.