200,000 holidays from Hanover: production anniversary for best-selling VW California
“Made in Hanover”: the 200,000th California left the production line in Hanover-Limmer. Since 2004, the camper production facility has turned the T model into the world’s most successful camper van – Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles (VWCV) and Volkswagen Group Services celebrated the anniversary with 600 employees. Last year, 21,600 California 6.1 vehicles were delivered, a further increase of 14.9 per cent compared with the pre-coronavirus year 2019. This means that the California is the undisputed market leader in the camper van segment of converted panel vans.
The 200,000th vehicle now produced in Hanover is a California 6.1 Ocean (2.0 l TDI, 150 kW) with 4MOTION all-wheel drive and 7-speed DSG, two-tone paint finish in Reflex Silver / Fortana Red, kitchen and cupboard unit, and electric pop-up roof with red bellows including three windows.
“The California has been a real success story for 35 years,” says Josef Baumert, Member of the Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles Brand Board of Management responsible for Production and Logistics. “200,000 vehicles are also 200,000 customers who are discovering the world with a California ‘Made in Hanover’. This outstanding success is due in particular to the employees who build what is surely the most successful camper van in the world every day with their know-how and passion at the main plant in Stöcken and in camper van production.”
The successor to the California 6.1 will also come from Hanover from 2024 and will be manufactured according to the same principle as the current model: the base vehicle is manufactured at the main plant in Hanover-Stöcken, where it receives the necessary cut-outs for the roof, windows and connections, for example. It is then converted into a camper van according to customer wishes by experts in the California production department located eight kilometres away; this production site is operated by Volkswagen Group Services.
A brief retrospective: the VW California was launched in 1988 – initially based on the third T generation (22,000 vehicles). Until 2004, the camper van was built by the conversion company Westfalia (a further around 39,000 vehicles based on the T4), before Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles started to produce the camper in-house with the switch to the fifth-generation bus. Camper production was established on an area of 7,500 square metres in the Limmer district of Hanover. Initially, around 20 vehicles were built every day by 35 production employees. Productivity steadily increased over the years, with around 15,150 California vehicles built in 2017. Construction of the 100,000th California in Limmer was celebrated the following year. Today, just five years later, the total has already reached 200,000 vehicles. Up to 150 vehicles are built every day by 600 employees in three shifts.
Hartmut Rickel, Spokesman of the Management Board of Volkswagen Group Services, says: “Production of the California in Limmer has developed very impressively – as the figures show: at the start of production in 2004, 2,104 vehicles left the line. This year, the Volkswagen Group Services team is planning to produce 31,000 units. This increase and the further development of the Hanover site into a future-oriented production facility make us extremely proud. On behalf of the Management Board, I would like to thank our employees at the location for this success. Without them, this increase would not have been possible.”
Tanja Huremovic, Deputy Chairwoman of the Works Council of VWCV, adds: “The fact that the California has been built in Limmer for almost 20 years is the result of a joint decision by management and the works council to no longer manufacture the Cali by Westfalia, but in Hanover. How right this decision was can be seen today. Because we have initiated this accordingly in the site agreement, this story will continue in the future with the California based on the Multivan. The product is a flagship for our brand. So my special thanks to the people who put our California on the road!”
Construction of the plant in Hanover-Limmer started in 2003, and production of the California was then launched in 2004. In the first year, 2,104 vehicles left the assembly line with the participation of around 35 Volkswagen Group Services employees. The location has grown continuously in size over the years and has developed further during this time. Around 31,000 vehicles will have left the production halls by the end of the year, and around 600 employees are currently working there in three shifts. The models T5.1 to T6.1 have been built to date. Production of the next generation of California will begin in the summer of next year (after the factory shutdown).