Today, Volkswagen Philippines launched the Multivan Kombi, heralding the arrival of the brand's van that has roots that can be traced even well beyond the flower power days.
The new van is positioned as a premium people carrier and has been configured to have the features to match in terms of comfort, safety, and connectivity. VW Philippines fitted it with a 2.0L 150PS diesel engine, the 7-speed dual-clutch gearbox, an 8-inch multimedia system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, three-zone climate control, dual swivel captain seats, dual electric sliding doors, LED lighting, 6 airbags, stability control, hill start assist, park assist, a rear camera and more. It even has a system called Crosswind Assist; that last one will be useful when driving on the expressway in tricky weather.
More importantly, the Volkswagen Multivan Kombi that they have launched is a model that is made in Germany; an important factor for their customers in the Philippines. Volkswagen is offering it in four different colors (including the two-tone Reflex Silver/Fontana Red) and will offer up to twelve colors in the future.
The sourcing, however, does affect the price. Given that there is no free trade agreement that can be taken advantage of, the Multivan Kombi is priced at PHP 3.595 million for the monotone and PHP 3.64 million for the two-tone model. Those prices are introductory though; the actual SRP will likely be more. The warranty is also surprising: 2 years, albeit with unlimited mileage in that span of time.
There is an elephant in the room though: the Multivan that was launched by Volkswagen Philippines is part of the T6 or the sixth-generation model. This generation has been available in other markets since 2015, and was updated as the T6.1 in 2019. Further compounding the arrival of the T6.1 is the fact that Volkswagen AG revealed an all-new seventh-generation van, the T7, just a month ago.
The question is this: Why not the T7?
During the virtual meeting for the launch of the T6.1 Multivan Kombi, Volkswagen Philippines anticipated they would get such questions. But Volkswagen PH insiders make it clear that the T7 isn't a replacement of the T6.1. Both models will actually be built simultaneously as the two are actually quite different.
The T7 is a completely different platform from the T6.1. The Multivan being offered by VW PH is the short wheelbase but is the more luxurious model, and has seats for 7 in a 2-2-3 configuration. The way it was explained to us is that the T6.1 Multivan and T7 Transporter are different vehicles; think of the difference between Hiace Tourer versus Hiace Super Grandia, but more premium.
There are plans to introduce the T7 in our region in the future, but it is unclear whether the Philippines is included in that. What is clear is that Volkswagen Philippines wants to re-introduce customers to the Volkswagen van with the T6.1
Will this strategy succeed for the Ayala-led Volkswagen Philippines? Can it rival other premium vans in the market considering that the Toyota Alphard is just about 300k more?