Volkswagen builds 1.5 millionth Bus in Brazil

The Bus has been built in Brazil since 1957.

Volkswagen's Brazilian arm has just announced that the 1.5 millionth Bus has rolled off of the Anchieta assembly line in Sao Bernardo, Brazil.

The Bus (called the Kombi locally) has been a part of the Brazilian landscape since 1957. It holds the distinction of being the first Volkswagen assembled in Brazil, an operation that over the decades has grown almost exponentially.

At first, the future did not look bright and sales were a little slow to take off. In its first full year on the Brazilian market, only 370 Buses found homes.

The pace quickly picked up and in 1970, the Brazilian factory started producing Buses for export. The Buses were sent to other Latin American countries such as Peru and Argentina, but some went as far as Nigeria.

The 500,000th Brazilian Bus was built in June of 1977, and the millionth in March of 1995.

Currently the Bus holds 3.3% of the light commercial vehicle market in Brazil. It is available in two versions, standard and furgão ("van" in Portuguese).

The standard seats nine and has a base price of R$ 44,760 ($24,142). The furgão is a cargo van which can be ordered with with either two or three seats and starts at R$ 48,850 ($26,348).

For better or worse, the Bus has been slightly modernized over the years. The biggest change came in 2005, when the type 1 air-cooled flat-four was dropped in favor of an 80 horsepower 1.4 water-cooled straight-four. The new engine allows the Bus to run on both gas and ethanol, a combination that has become the norm in Brazil.

Today exports have slowed down but some of the Brazilian Buses are sold new in the Netherlands, where they are fully outfitted as campers and carry a base price of about 44,995â,¬ (roughly $61,000)

1.'Kombi, primeiro VW...' view