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VW's Retrofitting This Mercedes Van Into A VIP Shuttle

Luxury / 1 Comment

The Xingchi Vulcanus is based on the Metris/V-Class and upgraded by Italdesign.

Rivalries don't get much more heated than the one that exists between Germany's two largest automakers. But they tend to put their competing interests aside when it comes to vans. Like the Volkswagen Crafter that was based on the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, the VW Routan that was based on the Dodge Grand Caravan (engineered by DaimlerChrysler), or this Mercedes-Benz V-Class that's being reworked by another Volkswagen Group division.

Italdesign (which Volkswagen acquired in 2010 through its Audi and Lamborghini subsidiaries) is working with Chinese automaker Xingchi to retrofit Daimler's V-Class into a luxury shuttle of what looks to be the highest caliber.

Called the Vulcanus, the van is based on a Mercedes V260L, but takes the model we know in America as the Metris in an altogether more upscale direction.

As you can see, Italdesign has upgraded the exterior with such design flourishes as unique, triangular LED daytime running lights and chrome trim. But it's inside where the real differences can be scene. The rear doors on both sides slide open electrically to reveal a first-class cabin that'd put even some of Asia's famously upscale commercial airline services to shame – from the genuine wood and leather trim to the fingerprint identification system.

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The rear passenger compartment is dominated by oversized high-definition screens, and features a pair of reclining lounge seats. They're separated not only from the driver but from each other by electro-chromatic glass dividers. And the cabin encompasses all the latest infotainment technologies a captain of industry could need on the road.

"Xingchi wanted us to give the Vulcanus something special, to turn an already-interesting vehicle in something unique: a luxury, hi-tech, prestigious yet elegant environment on wheels," said Italdesign's Filippo Perini. "We slightly modified some elements on the exterior and completely revolutionized the cabin using high-end materials, top-notch technologies and adding our typical Italian style."