VW California Beach, Ocean und Coast (from left) | © Foto: Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles

The New
VW California T7 2024

All about the new popular campervan

In May 2024, Volkswagen presented the new VW T7 camper van known as the ‘New California’. The Motorhomecouch has compiled all the questions and answers about the popular urban camper that has long been eagerly awaited by many California fans.

The most important facts summarised in a nutshell:

  • The new VW California T7 comes standard with sliding doors on the left and right sides of the vehicle—making the camper more versatile than ever before.
  • The new VW California 2024 will be offered with a plug-in hybrid drive system and all-wheel drive.
  • Camper functions in the new VW California can be controlled via a display in the living area, through an infotainment app, and via the "California" app on smartphones.
  • The new VW California, equipped with a standard pop-up roof, will be available for order in five model variants starting from June 2024.
VW California

All About the New Campervan

VW California: What's new about the new camper van?

The new VW California, which Volkswagen presented in a major world premiere on 7 May 2024, is close to the VW California CONCEPT vehicle study, which was already presented at the Düsseldorf Caravan Salon in 2023. Based on the long version of the Multivan launched in 2021, VW showed how the tried-and-tested and popular layout can be supplemented by a second sliding door on the left-hand side of the vehicle. Previously, the VW California had the kitchen block extending up to the B-pillar on the left-hand side and a sliding door as the main entrance on the right-hand side. The camper folding chairs, folding table and awning were therefore also always located on the right-hand side of the vehicle.

In the new VW California, Volkswagen has opened up the left-hand side of the vehicle for camping thanks to the additional sliding door on the driver's side and a kitchen block positioned further back. This creates a very versatile, flexible, new camping world in the VW California based on a three-room concept:

VW California T7 2024 | © Foto: Volkswagen Nutzfahrzeuge (Pressebild)
  • Foto: Volkswagen Nutzfahrzeuge (Pressebild)
VW California T7 2024 | © Foto: Volkswagen Nutzfahrzeuge (Pressebild)
  • Foto: Volkswagen Nutzfahrzeuge (Pressebild)
The interior of the new VW California based on the T7 Multivan

Room 1 is the outdoor area to the right of the vehicle. At the campsite, it becomes an open tent thanks to an awning. Room 2 is the interior behind the front seats, which can be swivelled through 180 degrees. Unlike before, the new VW California has lightweight, removable and very comfortable individual seats. This also makes it easier to transport boards and bikes in the interior. The seating area can be converted very quickly into a face-to-face seating arrangement for eating or playing together. As the vehicle has an electric parking brake instead of a manual one, the passage between the driver and front passenger seats towards the rear is much easier to use. The rear bench seat has also been replaced by variable individual seats, which can be folded down flat from the ‘Beach Tour’ model onwards and can be used as an additional lying surface with a folding mattress on top. Room 3 of the new VW California is the new outside area to the left of the vehicle, which is accessed via the additional sliding door on the driver's side.

The kitchen unit (from the ‘New California Coast’ model upwards) has been completely redesigned: One of the differences to its predecessor is that the kitchen unit with cupboards, sink and gas hob offers a similar amount of space as its predecessor thanks to the vehicle's greater length, but does not protrude as far forwards. This has several advantages: there is more space for getting in and out through the sliding door on the left, and taller drivers have more room to manoeuvre when adjusting the seat. The driver's seat, which can now also be adjusted in height, can be rotated through 180 degrees and there is space for the refrigerator, which can be opened forwards as a drawer, as in the Grand California.

The kitchen unit, including the sink, movable induction hob and refrigerator, can now also be accessed from outside, so that cooking and eating can be moved completely outside in good weather. In addition to the 230 V induction hob, there is also an integrated gas hob. A 230 V socket on the outside of the kitchen and an outdoor folding table make life on the pitch easier. The kitchen drawers are also accessible from both the outside and the inside. A special feature is the compact grill, which can be stored in the kitchen block and easily removed from the outside. The fridge can also be accessed from inside and outside.

Another advantage is the second sliding door for right-hand drive countries, where you can now also get in and out of the VW California from the safe side of the pavement. In everyday life, the second sliding door offers further entry and exit and additional loading options. An awning can now be ordered for either the left or right side to shield from rain or sun. An additional awning is available for the other side.

VW California T7 2024 | © Foto: Volkswagen Nutzfahrzeuge (Pressebild)
  • Foto: Volkswagen Nutzfahrzeuge (Pressebild)
VW California T7 2024 | © Foto: Volkswagen Nutzfahrzeuge (Pressebild)
  • Foto: Volkswagen Nutzfahrzeuge (Pressebild)

VW California: What else does the vehicle offer?

The VW California has practical drawers under the front swivel seats and additional storage space under the individual seats in the rear, for example for a removable dry toilet. The upper and lower kitchen cupboards, which are arranged behind the refrigerator, also offer plenty of storage space. There is also a separate storage space under the bed extension. There is also an open storage compartment under the roof, which is not available in this form in the current models. The table, which is used both inside and outside, is located in the rear - it is pushed flat under the bed support board. VW still packs the camping chairs for outside in the tailgate. VW has also thought of an outdoor shower in a modern design. It is integrated into the rear part of the furniture line and the shower head can be attached to the open tailgate.

The interior of the VW California can be bathed in a pleasant light thanks to the all-round and dimmable lighting in the roof frame. The colour and brightness of the lighting on the cupboards can also be adjusted to suit your taste and mood. There is a removable table lamp in the kitchen block for table lighting outside. LED lights are also attached to the awning arms. A very practical detail that is often missed even in expensive hotels when you are already in bed: all the LED and ambient lighting in the interior of the VW California can be switched off together with a quick double tap on just one of the numerous light switches.

Also enhanced is the blackout system across all models starting from the "Beach Tour" variant: Volkswagen has developed removable "California" storage pockets for the rear side windows; they simply hook onto the top of the window and cover the entire pane. Behind a zippered flap, various-sized storage compartments for clothing and other items are revealed. Roller blinds are integrated into the window frames of the sliding doors and the tailgate. For the front side windows, blackout shades are again used, which are magnetically attached to the door frame; in the "Coast" and "Ocean" versions, thermal blackout shades are employed. Naturally, the new VW California in all versions features the popular pop-up roof with a bed. It consists of a lightweight aluminum roof shell with a triple-layered bellows, which has a large panorama opening to the front. There are USB-C ports and LED lights in the roof. The high-quality bed measures 2,054 x 1,137 meters in all models of the New California and is equipped with a comfortable mattress and high-quality coil springs. Access to it is provided as before via the backrests of the driver's and passenger's seats.

VW California T7 2024 | © Foto: Volkswagen Nutzfahrzeuge (Pressebild)
  • Foto: Volkswagen Nutzfahrzeuge (Pressebild)
VW California T7 2024 | © Foto: Volkswagen Nutzfahrzeuge (Pressebild)
  • Foto: Volkswagen Nutzfahrzeuge (Pressebild)

VW California: How are the camper functions controlled?

Models from the "Beach Tour" version onwards are equipped with a completely redesigned camper control unit in the C-pillar on the passenger side. All camping-related functions are operated via a 5-inch touchscreen display. These include information on fresh and wastewater levels, interior lighting functions including ambient lighting, power supply status, refrigerator, heating system, and the roof tent deployment mechanism. Additionally, the VW California can be switched to camping mode via the display, allowing, for example, automatic deactivation of the Coming Home and Leaving Home functions when opening and closing the vehicle at the campsite. A large portion of the functions can also be controlled via smartphone through a dedicated California app and using a tablet inside the vehicle. This interface also allows access to a tilt indicator to level the camper.

All camper functions can be controlled and checked via the display. Alternatively, the functions can also be operated through a corresponding in-car app of the infotainment system and the "California" app on the smartphone.

VW California T7 2024 | © Foto: Volkswagen Nutzfahrzeuge (Pressebild)
  • Foto: Volkswagen Nutzfahrzeuge (Pressebild)

VW California: How is the vehicle technically equipped?

Three different systems power the new VW California, all of which can be combined with any equipment package and are all coupled to an automatically shifting dual-clutch transmission with all-wheel drive. Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles employs an efficient turbocharged direct injection diesel engine (TDI), a four-cylinder with a power output of 110 kW (150 PS). The turbocharged direct injection petrol engine (TSI) delivers 150 kW (204 PS). Both engines drive the front axle. A new addition is a plug-in hybrid drive system, generating a system output of 180 kW (245 PS), temporarily turning the new VW California into an electric vehicle. In the combination of the combustion engine and plug-in hybrid, the VW California offers a very high range and a towing capacity of up to 2,000 kg. The lithium-ion battery can be charged via both the combustion engine and the socket. With its approximately 10 kWh capacity, it serves to supply 12-volt power to all the technology in the vehicle, thus enabling an entirely new level of camping self-sufficiency. A 300-watt inverter is also included.

VW California: when will the all-electric camper van arrive?

VW had already announced in 2021 that it would also offer a California model based on the purely electric ID. Buzz. This VW ID. California should come “in the second half of the decade”. Because the current battery technology would still make a fully electric camper too heavy at present, VW is bridging the gap until lighter energy storage systems are available with the VW California and its plug-in hybrid drive now presented.

VW California T7 2024 | © Foto: Volkswagen Nutzfahrzeuge (Pressebild)
  • Foto: Volkswagen Nutzfahrzeuge (Pressebild)

VW California 2024: What models are available?

Until now, the VW California camper has been available in three models: the classic variant based on the VW Transporter, a compact version based on the Caddy, and a larger one based on the Crafter. Volkswagen will now offer five variants of the New California, all based on the Multivan. In addition, there's the smaller "Caddy California" and the more spacious "Grand California" based on the Crafter. The "New California" is available in the following versions:

  • The "New California Beach," with car registration, is essentially the Multivan with a manual pop-up roof. It offers six seats (2+2 individual seats in the second and third row) and two sleeping berths under the roof, which can be opened and closed with a new, easy-to-use mechanism.
  • The "New California Beach Tour" is equipped like the following models "Beach Camper," "Coast," and "Ocean" with swivel and height-adjustable driver and passenger seats, two ergonomically optimized folding chairs in the tailgate, and a folding table in the cargo area. It also includes lighting in the pop-up roof, 45-watt USB interfaces, sliding windows in the left and right sliding doors, and the completely redesigned camper control unit in the C-pillar on the passenger side. Additionally, the "Beach Tour" has a camper battery on board (40 Ah LiFePo). The five-seat "New California Beach Tour" is equipped in the rear with three individual seats; the backrests of the two outer rear seats can be completely folded down, unlike in the "Beach" and Multivan. This allows for two additional sleeping berths in the living area. There is also a fold-out additional mattress (1,980 x 1,330 meters), which rests on the folded-down individual seats and can be compactly stored in the trunk when not in use. The "Beach Tour" also has a car registration.
  • The "New California Beach Camper" already has a classic motorhome registration and, like the "Beach Tour," seats five. Additionally, it is equipped with an extremely compact mini kitchen and a 230-volt shore power connection. The kitchen with a single gas burner, a cutlery drawer, and additional storage space is located in a permanently installed module in the cargo area. To use it, the kitchen is pulled out to the rear with the tailgate open.
  • The four-seat "New California Coast" is equipped in the rear with two individual seats, a full kitchenette on the driver's side, and a second camper battery (total 2 x 40 Ah LiFePo). The same applies to the "Ocean." The fold-out bed in the living area measures 1,980 x 1,060 mm. When unfolded, it rests securely on the right on one of the folded seats and on the left on a step integrated into the kitchenette.
  • The also four-seat "New California Ocean" remains the flagship model of the series. Compared to the "Coast," the "Ocean" is equipped with numerous additional extras. These include the exclusive "Mélange Raven" seat fabric made from recycled material, seat heating for driver and front passenger seats, air heating, automatic climate control, a large roof storage box above the cargo area, and ambient lighting in the kitchen block. The fresh water tank in the "Coast" and "Ocean" is now 28 liters, five liters larger than before.
VW California T7 2024 | © Foto: Volkswagen Nutzfahrzeuge (Pressebild)
  • Foto: Volkswagen Nutzfahrzeuge (Pressebild)
VW California T7 2024 | © Foto: Volkswagen Nutzfahrzeuge (Pressebild)
  • Foto: Volkswagen Nutzfahrzeuge (Pressebild)

VW California: What colors is it available in?

Volkswagen offers the "New California" with a two-tone paint scheme, similar to the iconic Bulli. In addition to the eleven solid color options, there are three creatively named two-tone variants (top/bottom) devised by the automaker's marketing experts: "Monosilber"/"Energetic Orange Metallic," "Deep Black Pearl"/"Fontanarot Metallic," and "Candy Weiß Uni"/"Starlight Blue Metallic." The triple-layered bellows of the pop-up roof will be available in three colors: "Toffee-brown," "Glacier Blue," and "Basalt Grey."

VW California T7: How much does the new camper cost?

Volkswagen has not yet disclosed the prices at the world premiere of the "New California." All information about its new model can be found on the manufacturer's website.

VW California: When can the new camper be ordered?

The pre-sale of the New California begins in June 2024.

VW California: When will the first vehicles be on the road?

The first new VW Californias are expected to be delivered to dealerships in autumn 2024.

VW California: Where are the vehicles built?

The VW California is manufactured and outfitted at the VW Commercial Vehicles plant in Hannover.

VW California: What vehicle is the camper based on?

The new VW California is based on the long-wheelbase version of the Multivan, measuring 5.173 meters in length (compared to the predecessor's 4.904 meters), 1.941 meters in width without exterior mirrors (compared to the predecessor's 1.904 meters), and 1.990 meters in height, including the lowered pop-up roof (same as its predecessor). This keeps the new VW California compatible with parking garages. The previous VW California was based on the commercial vehicle variant, the Transporter. Its last variant, the T6, was discontinued in 2024, and the successor to the Transporter is being developed in cooperation with Ford on a Ford platform.

VW California T7 2024 | © Foto: Volkswagen Nutzfahrzeuge (Pressebild)
  • Foto: Volkswagen Nutzfahrzeuge (Pressebild)

VW California: Can you still order the old 6.1 version?

The VW California has been based on the VW T6.1 since 2019 and has since enjoyed great popularity as an extremely compact campervan. It is the market leader in this segment. However, the last T6.1 will roll off the production line in mid-2024, which is why the development of this vehicle into the VW California will end. The last 1,500 California on the old base will be labelled "Last Edition". However, the old VW California is sold out in the Beach, Coast and Ocean variants and can no longer be ordered.

How has the VW California developed since the 1980s?

The history of the California began in 1988 with a special motorhome model based on the T3 Transporter generation. In the late summer of that year, this first VW California was presented at the Caravan Salon (then still in Essen). It could be ordered in two colours: pastel white and marsala red. The kitchen unit was white-grey. Clever detailed solutions and the Bulli's indestructible technology quickly made the VW California a bestseller - 5,000 vehicles were sold in the very first year. In the years that followed, the VW California developed from a special model into its own model series and became more popular, winning over 22,000 motorhome enthusiasts by 1990.

The change from the T3 to the T4 in August 1990 was a technical revolution for the VW California. After four decades of rear-wheel drive vans with four-cylinder boxer engines, VW moved the engine to the front and drove the front axle from there. This changed everything: the design, the chassis, the engine and the space on offer. There is now significantly more space, especially in the rear. And the California now utilised this almost perfectly, offering more space than almost any other camper van of the time. The advertising slogan for the market launch was: "Hotel California. Quiet location, comfortable equipment, panorama guaranteed." By 2003, this VW California had sold around 39,000 units.

By 2015, 55,000 buyers had opted for the subsequent VW California based on the fifth generation of the van - partly due to new details such as the pop-top roof with integrated bed, camping chairs stowed in the tailgate and the camping table clicked into the sliding door. In 2015, the California followed on the basis of the sixth Transporter generation and, with its new assistance systems, achieved 15,155 new registrations by 2017. Since 2019, the VW California has been based on the Transporter 6.1. In total, over 280,000 units of the VW California were sold in all versions.

VW California T6.1 | © VW California T6.1, Foto: Volkswagen Nutzfahrzeuge (Pressebild)
  • VW California T6.1, Foto: Volkswagen Nutzfahrzeuge (Pressebild)
VW Caddy California | © VW Caddy California, Foto: Volkswagen Nutzfahrzeuge (Pressebild)
  • VW Caddy California, Foto: Volkswagen Nutzfahrzeuge (Pressebild)

VW California: Where can you rent the new campervan?

The first new VW California will be available to rent at www.roadsurfer.de, as the platform has entered into a cooperation with Volkswagen for the market launch and wants to jointly advertise the new camper. The new VW California can be booked from 7 May 2024 for trips starting in late autumn.

VW California: Why is the campervan so popular?

The main reason for the enormous popularity of the VW California is that the vehicle can be used both as a VW bus in everyday life and as a multivariable motorhome in leisure time. Despite the many camping functions, the VW California remains a fully-fledged VW bus. This flexibility has made it the most successful camper, with 260,000 vehicles sold.

Source: Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles

Text: Gerd Henghuber

VW California T7 2024 | © Foto: Volkswagen Nutzfahrzeuge (Pressebild)
  • Foto: Volkswagen Nutzfahrzeuge (Pressebild)