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Volkswagen LT - 45 Years Of Transporter Success

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Volkswagen LT - 45 Years Of Transporter Success
Volkswagen LT - 45 Years Of Transporter Success

The Volkswagen LT was presented in Berlin exactly 45 years ago. The big brother, the Bulli, which was already in the second generation at the time, successfully expanded the Hanover product range

Volkswagen and Transporter: These two terms have been closely linked since the Bulli was launched in 1950. However, since the Bulli was not intended for very heavy loads, Volkswagen developed a model below the heavy truck but above the VW bus to complement the range of products. A cargo transporter in the 2.8 to 3.5 ton segment. Lower Saxony's names remained cool and factual. So the cargo transporter became simply the model name: LT.

VW listens to its customers

In the appendix, the designations 28, 30 and 35 were found for the permissible total weight of 2.8, 3.0 and 3.5 tons. As with the van, Volkswagen also listened to customers' requests for the LT, and so the LT was available from the start with two wheelbases and two roof variants. The space miracle was available as a panel van, station wagon, bus, platform, double cabin and as a chassis with a cab.

In the run-up to the development, it was determined that the ratio of traffic to usable space should be even better than that of the van with a rear engine. For this purpose, the engineers from Volkswagen designed a vehicle with the space-saving front-link design of the van and a front engine that was placed between the driver and front passenger seat above the front axle. The drive continued to be via the rear axle. Without the engine in the rear, the entire cargo space was available for use. And yet the LT remained compact: Compared to the T2 Bulli, the LT only grew by 33 cm in length and 20 cm in width, but due to the new space concept with 7.85 cubic meters of loading space, it offered over 50 percent more loading volume.

Further development for more comfort

Volkswagen was also proud of the ergonomics that until then had been neglected in commercial vehicles. The cab was developed with the help of ergonomists. Thanks to this cooperation, for example, the controls have been arranged close to the driver and a large windscreen and extra-large exterior spatula have been installed.

One of the reasons for increased driving comfort was the independent suspension on the front axle, which was still not standard in the segment many years after the introduction of the LT. At the beginning there was the Volkswagen either with a 2.0 liter four-cylinder petrol engine from the Audi 100 (throttled to 75 HP and adapted for operation in a commercial vehicle) or a 2.7 liter four-cylinder diesel engine from the English manufacturer Perkins with 48 kW (65 HP). Volkswagen replaced it in 1979 with its first six-cylinder diesel engine. The new 2.4 liter engine in the LT only achieved 8PS more than its predecessor, but developed significantly more power and ran extremely smoothly - so quietly that even Volvo installed this engine in their first six-cylinder car.

Due to its quality and reliability, coupled with the large usable area and compact dimensions, the LT quickly became a popular base for motorhomes. Many of them are still on the streets of the world today. In 1988, it came as no surprise to Volkswagen that in addition to the compact California based on the third generation (T3) of the Bulli, Volkswagen also presented a motorhome based on the LT: With the Florida, Volkswagen offered a fully-fledged motorhome for four people with a wet room.

After 21 years and over 470,000 LT produced, the time was ripe for a successor in 1996.

1996: The second generation of the LT

In 1996, after 21 years, the era of the compact and popular cargo van ended. As with the change from T3 to T4, the change from LT1 to LT2 became a change to a more modern age. The LT2 was the first new vehicle to be launched by the Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles (VWN) brand, founded in 1995 and based in Hanover. This and the following series were developed in cooperation with Mercedes-Benz.

The diesel engines were now installed lengthways under a short bonnet. Entry was significantly lower and there was the option of getting comfortably back into the loading or passenger compartment between the front seats.

Volkswagen's recipe for success in offering customers a wide range of products was also retained in the LT2. So there were still panel vans, station wagons, buses, pickups, double cabins and chassis with three wheelbases and a permissible total weight between 2.6t and 4.6t.

The popular TDI engines were another advantage. Economical, powerful and reliable, they were also the first choice in the LT2. In 2002 VWN made the LT2 an express vehicle with a new 2.8l four-cylinder diesel. The engine had 116kW (158 HP) and had a maximum torque of 331Nm. These were record values in the segment.

Production at the Stöcken plant ended in 2006 after almost 340,000 vehicles.

2006: The Crafter

Based on the basic concept of the predecessor, the Crafter was launched in 2006. Visually in truck design and technically a completely new vehicle. This was also made clear by the new name. Crafter stood and stands for a dynamic helper in everyday work, for "someone who helps".

The most spectacular variant was certainly the Crafter 4MOTION presented in 2012 with Achleitner all-wheel drive. The vehicle was fully equipped with up to three locks, raised and had off-road tires and a full underride guard. The Crafter 4MOTION was able to successfully demonstrate its qualities as a support vehicle at the Dakar Rally 2012.

For ten years, the Crafter was again produced in a wide variety of variants (box, station wagon, bus, platform, double cabin and chassis). Over 480,000 units sold speak for the success of the third generation as well.

2016: The new Crafter - 100 percent Crafter - 100 percent VWN

In 2016 Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles presented the second generation Crafter for the first time. A vehicle that was newly developed from scratch and again for which even a new plant was built in Wrzesnia, Poland.

During development, the experts at Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles questioned customers more intensively than ever before about their needs and ideas and invited them to help shape the new Crafter according to their ideas. Specialists from Hanover often accompanied the drivers in their everyday life and asked them about their wishes directly at their workplace.

The result is probably the best and most diverse vehicle in the segment. In addition to the various bodies, the Crafter was now also available with front, rear or all-wheel drive for the first time. With new car handling and an unprecedented number of safety and driver assistance systems, the new Crafter became the benchmark in the

C / D segment.

The Crafter received the title: "Transporter of the Year 2017" from the international jury of commercial vehicle journalists from 24 European countries.

A year later, VWN presented the electrically powered “e-Crafter” variant and the “Grand California” motorhome as an extension of the Crafter product range.