Shifting, The Great. (From the Vanagon, (t3), to the Eurovan, (t4)). Was it worthy?

  Accountants, looking at their papers, thought that, (the rear engined Vanagon's "riding on the air feeling"), is simply a matter of good earnings for them and for their shareholders, so they imposed that yes, as a manufacturer of cars for the masses and not as manufacturer of premium cars, it is worthy to make a car similar to anybody else's. 

So they  replaced a premium car, (which had many unique characterisitcs, between them that it was a premium car for the masses), with a car made for the masses and marketed for the masses.


The sales in U.S.A., at least for the first years, went from miniscule to zero! And afterwards they were so terrible that VW was terrified and dismissed van type car, (closing the road for the t5/t6), exports to U.S.A., up to nowadays!

Such things happen, (and in many other automotive matters, diesel gate, direct injection, airbags,), when the accountants have the final word.

         U.S.A. sales for 13 years, (per model).

Vanagon                              Eurovan
1979   11.762                 1992       no data
1980   14.101                 1993       no offer
1981   11.479                 1994       no offer
1982   13.234                 1995       no offer
1983   14.695                 1996          995
1984   21.352                 1997       1.738
1985   16.296                 1998       1.742
1986   12.288                 1999       3.395
1987   10.336                 2000       2.714
1988     5.227                 2001       5.600
1989     4.969                 2002       6.673
1990     6.368                 2003       4.735
1991     5.039                 2004          209
                                     2005              0 

An interesting article:

"Eurovan: the Vanagon that wasn't there".

Still not convinced?

 Have a look at what mr. Christian Buhlmann, "Pressesprecher bei Volkswagen AG", says about: 

Q: When the microbus concept came out there was a lot of passion about it, people were really excited about it. There are people who buy old Vanagons for $70,000 - $80,000 that are redone. So they say there is a market for this, so how did you guys determine that there isn’t really enough volume for that?

A: In the volume car business, as we are not a premium brand, it’s quite simple. If you have a model where there’s no derivative that you can share costs or build up more scale, you need at least 200,000 units per year to make it feasible.
We are a company that offers 300 different model lines over 12 brands, and having sold more than 10 million cars last year.
Among these cars there are also some cars which are not making 200,000 units, but they’re not in the volume market anymore.
Whereas if you want to meet this price point, you need to be in the volume market, and there’s just no other car that you can share components with if you’re making this van, because they’re not compliant with the other models such as hatchbacks, sedans, and so on.
So we’re really looking at supplying for a huge market that just isn’t there in the van market.

Q: And how do you know the market isn’t there, surveys?

A: Yes. By market surveys and we obey what’s happening in the market and track that constantly. And that’s why management decisions went toward SUVs.
Whereas us coming from the van segment, we had a hard time of adjusting our model line here. And that is why we are very successful with the vans in Europe, but over here, everything is going towards the SUV segments.
  (Bold is mine).


Do you want more?

Accountants hated, (from the momment of its birth), the t3 and especially the Syncro.

Syncro and Syncro16'', for them, was so extreme, so specialized, so unreasonable, so Jeepesque,  that they thought that it was better to keep its production to an, almost, closed circle.


"Why weren't they advertised more?


From the late 1980's on, VW marketing-department was already planning the introduction of the new front-wheel-drive Transporter T4, which was due to get started in late summer 1990. They knew that this would be a job at least as hard as it had been to convince beetle owners to buy a Golf in the early 1970's, due to the fact that the T3 version was still extremely popular, especially for camper-conversions.
When private customers and big organisations like e.g. the Bundespost (federal mail service) still insisted in purchasing the T3 until 1992, VW was forced to move the T3 4x2 fitting-plant competely from Hannover to Graz in the same line with the syncro versions and continue production for a last series of some ten-thousand, while the Hannover light-truck plant was beeing remodeled and already producing the new T4 Transporter. A main reason to develop the T4 had been the manufacturing costs of the old T3 technology and the expensive boxer rear-engine not beeing used in any other model. 

Why was production stopped in 1992?


As VW and Steyr-Puch decided to do the modifications as properly as possible, it is clear that it couldn't be cheap in the end, because everything was limited by a concept deriving from the mid-1970s and even earlier roots. So with every T3 delivered instead of a T4, VW would comparatively loose profits and - once they had made up their minds for the T4 - their intention was to let the T3 die as fast as ever possible. It is clear, that there was especially one thing VW managers did not want to have in these days: : large amounts of publicity with a T3 high-tech 4WD Off-Road version. They aimed at the opposite: attention was needed badly for the new model, which was at first not well accepted by the majoity of the customers. This may also explain why the 16" version didn't even come to the US or Canada. It is interesting to talk to motor journalists involved in Off-Road tests in the late 1980's and early 1990's. They describe the amazing stiuation that they had to appear in Wolfsburg and - more or less - beg for demonstration cars of the syncro 16" and not the other way round as usual". 
(Bold is mine).