Volkswagen To End VW Van Production

Sao Paulo, Brazil, is the last place where the iconic vehicle is manufactured. Production is scheduled to stop at the end of the year. In Brazil, many the vans are turned into food trucks or school buses.

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

That's nice. Today's last word in business is: Hippie Bus. It was the ride of choice during the Summer of Love. The Volkswagen van. We are told Steve Jobs sold his in the '70s in order to buy a circuit board. Well, that iconic van is soon to be made no more.

NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro reports.

LOURDES GARCIA-NAVARRO, BYLINE: Many owners gave their names because they were idiosyncratic, colorful cheap and had a tendency to break down. Full disclosure, ours was called Gertie.

The VW van has been used across the Americas and Europe for everything - from road trips to see the Grateful Dead - to transporting soldiers in Brazil. And indeed, it's here in Brazil where, it's called a Kombi - that the VW van will take its final ride and chug into the history books.

Brazil is the last place in the world still producing the bus, as its known in the U.S. It's a regular feature of life here; many are converted into food trucks or school buses.

According to the company, production will end at the end of the year. The reason? Every vehicle in Brazil must have air bags by 2014. And according to the AP, Volkswagen says it can't change production to comply with the new safety regulations.

But even though there won't be new ones available, don't expect to stop seeing them on the road. VW has produced more than 10 million since the model was introduced 63 years ago in Germany. And because they're so easy to fix, they last.

If you are in Brazil, you can still buy a piece of the magic. Volkswagen Brazil is turning the final few into special editions.

Lourdes Garcia-Navarro, NPR News, Sao Paulo.

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