"Eurovan" redirects here. For the large MPV codeveloped by PSA and Fiat, see Eurovan (PSA/Fiat joint venture).
The Volkswagen Transporter (known in North America as the Volkswagen Eurovan) was the first front-engined van produced by German automaker Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles and is the successor of the Volkswagen Type 2 van. It is built on the Volkswagen Group T platform.
As early as the late 1970s, Volkswagen began to think about replacing their rear-engined Type 2 vans with a more modern, front-engined, water-cooled design, as they had very successfully done with their passenger cars earlier in that decade. The reason why in 1980 they still introduced the new rear-engined T3/Vanagon instead is unclear; the front-engined van was delayed until 1990.
The T4, released in 1990, was the first Transporter without a rear engine. This front-wheel drive model was available in two wheelbases, and being front-engined allowed a far greater diversity for special bodies - from wreckers to three-axled minibuses to large box-bodied ambulances, almost everything was possible. Transversely mounted engines with four, five and six cylinders, and especially the very popular TDI diesel engines with direct injection, brought the Transporter's performance back to state of the art, which couldn't really be said about either the T2 or T3.
Enthusiasts naturally bemoaned the death of the classic Type 2, but rationally it really was inevitable. The market proves it: the T4 was a tremendous success, and the introduction of its successor was delayed time and again due to unabated demand. After no less than 14 years, the T4 ceased production in 2003 (making it second only to the T1 for length of production in its home market), but it is rumoured to be resurrected for the Chinese market.
There was one major model change to the T4, in 1994, when the re-shaped front end was introduced. This was needed to fit the six-cylinder VR6 engine into the Transporter's engine bay. The commercial variants, however, which were not available with the VR6, retained the old look (although they were changed as well, they just still looked almost the same). Keeping with the Type 2's tradition, these two versions are called T4a and T4b respectively by enthusiasts.
The engine range has become rather too large to elaborate here. T4a were available with four- and five-cylinder engines, both petrol and diesel; the T4b saw not only the VR6, but also the five-cylinder TDI engines that since have replaced the traditional normally aspirated diesels.
T4 in US
The Eurovan, as the T4 generation was exported to North America from 1993 until 2003 (in the United States, the Eurovan was only sold in 1993, and again in 1999-2003, whereas it was not sold in Canada for 1997-98) only as a passenger version, except for those that were shipped to Winnebago Industries for conversion to either Campers, which were shipped to and sold by U.S. VW dealers, or to Rialtas, where were sold by Winnebago dealers directly. Smaller than a standard American delivery van, but larger than an American or Japanese passenger minivan, VW played up its size with the slogan, "EuroVan: There's nothing mini about it."
In the U.S., the models were:
- the seven-seat Eurovan CL,GL, and GLS
- the Eurovan MV, in which the second row of seats face the rear and are removable, the third row converts into a bed, a folding table in the passenger area, window curtains, and a fluorescent lamp above table.
- the Eurovan MV Weekender, an MV plus a Westfalia conversion that adds a pop-top roof, a second overhead bed, bug screens for side windows and rear hatch, utility battery, and standard refrigerator.
- the Eurovan Camper, which is the long wheelbase commercial van converted by Winnebago Industries to include a pop-top roof, two two-person beds, seating for four (plus optional single or two-person center seats), a one cubic foot refrigerator that runs on propane, DC, or AC, a propane furnace, a closet, cabinets, sink with cold water and a gray water tank, a two-burner propane stove, two two-person dinette tables, coach battery, house lighting, and the two front bucket seats made to swivel around to face the dinette/kitchen area.
Turbocharged Direct Injection
Main article: Volkswagen Transporter (T5)
The fifth generation of the VW Transporter hit the market in Europe late in 2003. It is a direct successor to the T4 in its looks and utility value, unlike the Microbus concept car that VW had been showing around several years prior to the T5's introduction. The Microbus concept was almost produced, but Volkswagen scuttled plans for building it due to cost problems.
The T5 Transporter is not available in the United States and Canada in any form. Instead, Volkswagen offers the Volkswagen Routan, a passenger minivan based on Chrysler LLC's Dodge Caravan. The T5 Transporter, however, is still sold under the Eurovan nameplate in Mexico.