New Volkswagen Multivan/Caravelle – Clever new feature means added space


Sometimes even something really good needs to be reinvented to make it even better. Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles has done that and simply dispensed with the gear knob. In the Multivan or otherwise called the Caravelle, the objective: to make driving easier and to increase space. Generation one and two of this best-selling vehicle – the T3 and T4 – were equipped with a conventional gear lever with a long shaft. In the third and fourth generation of the Multivan – the T5 and T6 – the means of changing gear then moved to the instrument panel. That optimised the gap through to the back, a typical feature in the Bulli. However, it can be even better, as a new Multivan will soon show.

Shift-by-wire: signals from compact DSG switch relayed electronically in the Multivan
Multivan DNA: every Bulli must offer that practical gap between the front seats for climbing through to the back
Automatically better: the next Multivan is equipped as standard with a dual clutch gearbox (DSG)

The interplay of electronics and software is making new functions possible. In the next generation Multivan, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles utilises this interplay to transform the gear knob into a switch and thus to reduce it in size so that the gap for climbing through to the back becomes even bigger. The technology behind it: shift-by-wire. That means electronic relaying of the gear change signals. With one click. The prerequisite for this is the fact that in future the Multivan is being equipped with a dual clutch gearbox, aka a DSG. That’s because where there is no longer a manual gearbox, space for a manual gear change mechanism, gear knob included, is no longer needed.

The Head of Design at Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, Albert Kirzinger, explains in a short video what also makes the Bulli a Bulli in the interior: “Generosity in the interior. We have taken out the gear knob. We’ve even cleared the space in the middle, assigned it to the driver. The new Bulli will be an exciting product. You can look forward to it.”

Instead, a small switch is now sufficient. It is integrated ergonomically perfectly into the new instrument panel to the right of the steering wheel. The DSG switch is thus on a level with the 10-inch display of the infotainment system – on which, for the first time in the Multivan, a real 360-degree representation of the vehicle is also displayed as an ‘Area View’ (optional) in order to make parking and manoeuvring very easy. One floor lower, meanwhile, the conventional handbrake lever has also been cleared out of the way. From now on, the parking brake is activated electronically by button or automatically. And thus the space between driver’s seat and front passenger seat increases even more. So that you can quickly jump into the back to see to the children during a stop. Or to get something from the cool box. Or to use the new multi-function table from the back as a centre console between driver’s and front passenger seat. But that is already moving on to another story about the new Multivan. To be continued.