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New Volkswagen concept van boasts panoramic roof for stargazing

It’s all controlled by an app

The Volkswagen California XXL camper.
All photos courtesy of Volkswagen

Volkswagen—the German automaker founded in 1937—is shaking up the camper and RV industry. Earlier in the year they debuted the I.D. Buzz, an autonomous, all-electric interpretation of the classic minibus that would go 270 miles on one charge. Now, they’ve announced the concept for an app-controlled California XXL camper that boasts a panoramic roof.

The sleek design takes RV comfort and combines it with adventure van perks, and auto experts say the California XXL is Volkswagen’s answer to converted Mercedes-Benz Sprinters, Ford Transits, and Ram Promasters. Like the regular California camper van—which isn’t sold in the U.S.—the XXL includes a bed, kitchen, and living area. But extras include a pop-up roof for 7.2 feet of head room, heated floors, and all-wheel drive.

The retractable bathroom expands from just under four square feet to eight square feet and functions as a wet room with a sink, shower, and toilet. In the kitchen, a large counter top provides ample workspace, and you still get normal RV amenities like a sink, gas stove, a fridge, and even an espresso machine. One notable design element is the x-shaped burners that raise up for cooking and then lower to create a flush countertop when not in use.

The loft sleeping area sleeps two kids.

Another big difference is that the California XXL concept adds more space for a family; the high roof makes room for a two-kiddo sleeping loft about the front seats. Adults sleep in the rear on a 6.5 x 5.5-foot bed that can be both heated and cooled to maintain optimal sleeping temperatures. A digital projector—controlled by an app—above the bed lets you watch movies on the rear wall of the bathroom. The app also controls other onboard systems like lighting.

The best part just might be the panoramic roof that stretches almost the entire length of the camper and bathes the interior with plenty of natural light. Combined with the white panels, large windows, and the ambient lighting at night time, the California XXL is an airy retreat that appears much larger than other campers.

The interior of the camper at night, with the ambient light featured.

While the camper is still in the concept stages, it was on display at the Düsseldorf Caravan Salon in late August (check out some of the other cool RVs and campers from the show, here and here). There are no plans to bring the camper to market, and even if and when they do, there’s no guarantee that it will be sold in the United States.

But this sleek new Volkswagen camper provides plenty of innovation and there’s no doubt potential buyers would love that roof. Even if this VW camper never makes it to production, we’ll likely see at least some of these ideas incorporated into new vans in the future.

The design of the camper.
An aerial view of the rooftop.
The retractable wet bathroom.
The adult sleeping area in the rear of the camper.
The wet room bathroom with a sink that folds up.