Volkswagen has just announced that it will stop making it classic Beetle starting next year. This will mark nearly seventy years of production in North America. Volkswagen’s American unit confirmed that production will be halted in its factory in Mexico once the new third-generation bulbous bug models are released in July next year.
The Compact Beetle is perhaps one of the most famous cars from Volkswagen. The model was first introduced in Germany back in 1938 during the Nazi era, and it came to the US just 11 years later where it became one of the known symbols of utilitarian transportation used by hippies. In 1968, the car attained additional popularity after it was featured in the popular Disney movie The Love Bug. The Beetle was also featured almost poetically in the final album of the popular band Beatles.
After selling for nearly 30 years, production for the Beetle stopped in 1979. But due to increased sentimental allure from fans all over the world, Volkswagen decided to re-launch it in 1998 as a more modern option called the “New Beetle.” The car attracted many female buyers. In 2012, Volkswagen revamped its design in a bid to appeal to the male population. The new 2012 design featured a flatter roof, a new navigation system, a bigger trunk, and a less bulbous shape. The trick worked wonders.
Sales in the US increased five times hitting 29,000 within the first year after production. However, the buzz died down after a bit and sales dropped. It now seems like Volkswagen is not interested in re-establishing the magic of this car. The final models will be more or less special editions that will give fans one last chance to acquire the car. Reports show that the German automaker is going to launch two body options. One will be a coupe and the other a convertible. The new models are expected to come in unique blue and beige colors. Volkswagen will also be adding standard extra chrome, an ambient lighting system inside, and new wheels.
Once the production is stopped next year, it may be awhile before the German automaker reconsiders production again. According to the CEO of the company’s American Unit Hinrich Woebcken, although there’s always a possibility of reviving production in the future, at the moment there are no plans to do so.
The last few months haven’t been easy for Volkswagen. The company has been engulfed in a diesel cheating scandal that has rocked its operations. Investigators in Germany indicted the automaker for installing “defeat devices” into nearly 11 million cars worldwide to cheat on regulatory emissions tests. Volkswagen has already paid billions in fines sanctioned by governments in some of its key markets including the US and Germany. In addition to this, the company is also facing lawsuits from investors who saw their stake in the company nearly wiped out when Volkswagen’s stocks tanked after the scandal came to light. Retiring the production of the Beetle is no doubt a sad ending to a very long and illustrious history but there’s still hope for a revival in the future.