Westfalia, the company that brought Americans a series of Volkswagen van-based campers equipped with a pop-up roof, will return to the American market in 2024 after a nearly two-decade-long hiatus. Its upcoming line of RVs won’t be based on a Volkswagen model, however.
Owned by French company Groupe Rapido, the emblematic brand announced its return by publishing a brief statement accompanied by a preview image on its newly-launched American website. It stopped short of revealing which line(s) of motorhomes it will sell here, but the photo at the top of the page shows a Ram ProMaster-based van parked on a beach and partially hidden by two people holding surfboards. That’s a huge hint: Westfalia offers a range of campers named Columbus in Europe, and they’re based on the Fiat Ducato, which is the van that spawned the ProMaster. It’s too early to tell how many variants of the Columbus (there are four in Europe) will end up in North America.
What you see on Westfalia’s European website isn’t necessarily what you’ll get when sales start in 2024. Trade journal RV Business learned that motorhomes destined for the North American market will be manufactured in Ontario, Canada, so there may be some country-specific differences in terms of equipment (and, undoubtedly, powertrain; most motorhomes sold in Europe run on diesel). Westfalia will sell its range of campers through a dealer network that it hasn’t established yet, and it will preview its campers at a trade show in Indiana in September.
Len McDougall, the head of sales for Westfalia North America, told RV Business that the main feature adventurers love about older campers will again be available. Its RVs will “feature sleeping availability in the front, rear, and upper pop-top area of the van,” he clarified.
More details about Westfalia’s return to the North American market will emerge in the coming months.
How about another Volkswagen-based Westfalia camper?
Although the last Westfalia-branded camper sold in the United States wore a Mercedes-Benz star on its nose, most enthusiasts associate the name with a long line of Volkswagen-based models. Westfalia turned the split- and bay-window vans into tiny homes on wheels well before #vanlife took the internet by storm, and it later gave the Vanagon and the EuroVan the same treatment. Volkswagen and Westfalia haven’t broken up; fly across the Atlantic and you can choose from five evolutions of the current Transporter… and that’s the problem.
Volkswagen doesn’t sell the Transporter in the United States, so Westfalia would first need to homologate the standard version of the van on the American market before bringing a camper (with or without a pop-up roof; both are available) here. In contrast, Fiat doesn’t offer the Ducato on our shores but the ProMaster is pretty much the same thing with the exception of its drivetrain and some country-specific features. Most of what fits a Ducato fits a ProMaster, whether we’re talking about a wheel or a full interior with beds, a sink, and a shower.