Move aside Scout. Another old brand name is returning to the U.S. market for 2024: Westfalia. With a newly launched website, word is that the brand will be looking for retail partners at the RV Dealer Open House, America’s largest RV dealer show.
It opens Sept. 25 in Elkhart, Indiana. It’s expected that the brand’s planned North American van will be on display as a pre-production model. The new vans will be built in Ontario, Canada.
While it’s unknown which vehicles Westfalia will offer, the website shows what appears to be a Ram ProMaster, although the company has converted various Fiat, Ford, Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen models in Europe in recent years.
Volkswagen made them famous
When you mention Westfalia, most Americans think of the converted Volkswagen RVs, the first of which reached these shores in 1956. It survived the various iterations of the Volkswagen bus, including its blander later variations as the Vanagon and EuroVan. But the German company was split into three businesses in 1999, with Westfalia Van Conversion, which manufactured and distributed RV conversions, split off from Westfalia Automotive, which produces towing attachments. and the Westfalia Trailer Group, which builds trailers.
DaimerChrysler acquired 49% share of Westfalia Van Conversion that same year, with Daimler Chrysler purchasing the rest of the company two years later. This led to a number of RVs based on the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, which made it across the pond as the Dodge Sprinter Westfalia through 2006 via Airstream dealers. Westfalia remained a wholly owned DaimlerChrysler subsidiary until 2011, when it’s acquired by France’s Rapido Group, which owns Canadian camper brand Roadtrek.
Currently, Roadtrek offers nearly a dozen models based on the Ram ProMaster, with the Play Slumber and Zion Slumber sporting Westfalia’s classic pop-top sleeping lofts. Westfalia also offers the Westfalia Columbus in Europe, a model based on the Ram ProMaster’s identical cousin, the Fiat Ducato.
The two vehicles were jointly developed, but have some notable differences, with the maximum payload weight for the Ram ProMaster coming in at 5,145 pounds, along with a maximum towing weight of 5,100 pounds.
For the Ram ProMaster’s 3.6-liter V6, maximum gross combined weight is 11,500 pounds, while the Fiat Ducato’s 3.0-liter diesel has a maximum gross combined weight of 12,500 pounds. But the Fiat Ducato’s maximum payload is only 3,472 pounds.
And while the Ducato is built in Italy, the Ram ProMaster is built in Mexico.
Nevertheless, the return of Westfalia should be welcome news to those who spent their youth roaming America in one. The love affair is about to be rekindled.