Sat, Mar 9, 2024 8:00 AM

Keeping Kombis rolling


William Woodworth

This year’s Volkswagen Nationals are coming to Kaikōura, with a revolutionary guest in the shape of KEV, a 1966 Kombi with a transitioned EV powertrain.

Volkswagen New Zealand’s KEV (Kombi Electric Vehicle) will be on display for the weekend.

KEV will be helping educate VW lovers on the brand’s journey to reduce its carbon footprint and to celebrate the much-anticipated arrival of the new, fully electric ID. range that launched in 2023.

Volkswagen New Zealand’s Special Vehicles Manager Max van den Bergen says the change from classic to e-classic has been an extraordinary venture.

"I know Kombi owners are super passionate about their vehicles, so it’s great to share our journey and plans required to turn their classic into a full EV,” says Max.

“When almost half (47 per cent) of Kiwis are likely considering an EV for their next vehicle, we’re thrilled to offer a range of electric and PHEV (Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles) options along with one that’s slightly more unexpected.”

The boot of KEV becomes a key part to housing the EV’s wiring and powertrain. Photo: Supplied/VW NZ

Once used by the Dunedin Health Board, KEV has been lovingly restored and repowered with a new heart, fuelled by clean energy.

The initiative seeks to "green up" one of the brand’s most recognisable vehicles with an open-source guide online to help Kombi owners revolutionise their iconic retro.

Volkswagen nationals have been running in NZ for more than 30 years. They rely on the support of volunteers from the local VW club in each area where it takes place, which changes year on year.

This year’s event is being organised by East Coast Air Cooled – a non-profit car club based in Christchurch, established in 2016.

Coordinator Kirsty Hopewell is eagerly looking forward to Easter Weekend.

“We’re super excited for Kaikōura, because as drivers we’re passionate about the area and wanting to put money back into small town communities.”

“Kaikōura is an ideal position for the VW community, and we’ve got entries coming ranging from 1952 until the modern day travelling from the very far north to the very far south.”

“It’s special to have the Kombi Electric Vehicle coming along too, because the community behind these sort of older vehicles are always interested in finding ways to keep their favourite vehicles on the road.”

Volkswagen New Zealand engineers deconstructed the Kombi completely to be reborn as KEV as part of their Greenprint guide. Photo: Supplied/VW NZ

Volkswagen’s goal is to continue to spread peace, love, and freedom with free-to-all access on how to convert a classic Kombi to an EV.

The guide called the ‘Greenprint’ delivers a how-to plan for passionate owners to convert their own Volkswagen vehicle to fully electric solution.

Anyone can revolutionise their Kombi with the Volkswagen Greenprint, available now from

The Volkswagen Nationals will be out and about Kaikōura for the public to admire, with the Qualitat Show & Shine from 10am to 3pm on Saturday 30th March, before a lunch cruise to Mt Lyford and a twilight cruise through Kaikoura on Sunday 31st.

Can’t make the trip to Kaikoura for the Nationals? Head into Motorworld Marlborough on Scott Street and talk to the team about everything Volkswagen – including their ID EV range, their plug-in hybrid and ICE powered vehicles, commercial vehicle options and their California motorhome range, the modern-day relative of the Kombi.

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