Volkswagen’s venerable T6 van is relatively unknown in North America, but global markets know it by many names. This particular version looks pretty much like a run-of-the-mill 2018 model, but sometimes the best disguises are the ones that go right under your nose. The odd fuel-door-looking rectangular panel over the rear wheel well caught the attention of our photographer, as did the stickers on the window. You can easily see the 2018 decal, but get close to the window and there’s a hybrid sticker on there, too. This van may have the skin of a 2018 model, but it’s actually a mule for testing the next-generation T7 powertrain.
From what we’ve heard in the rumor mill, big changes are coming for the much-loved Volkswagen van. They’re certainly due considering the current T6 is generally a facelifted T5, but the new model won’t just get some rearranged exterior bits. The next van will be all-new, riding on Volkswagen's MQB platform that will underpin many vehicles in the lineup. The modular platform is designed to accommodate transverse-mount engines, meaning the T7 will be front-wheel drive with available all-wheel drive, like the current model.
Unlike the present-day T6, the T7 will benefit from a wide choice of powertrains including gasoline, diesel, full-electric, and hybrid models like this van. It’s possible that odd side panel is a plug-in access port, and taking a close look at the back we can see some of the T7 underpinnings hanging a bit low. One of the downsides of using an old body for new powertrain designs – things don’t always fit so well.
This is obviously still an early stage of development for the T7, but not too early. The new model is expected to debut in 2020, and we did glimpse a mule back in June with slightly different proportions, though it too was primarily a T6 shape. Still, 2020 will be here in no time, so expect to see some camouflaged VW vans running around soon.