Volkswagen To End Production Of Iconic Beetle

Chris Sommer
September 13, 2018 - 3:14 pm
Volkswagen emblem

© Nino Pavisic | Dreamstime.com

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Volkswagen announced Thursday it will end production of the Beetle in July 2019.

The automaker called it a sad day for fans of the car that dates back to the 1930s. In a statement, VW CEO Hinrich Woebcken said, "The loss of the Beetle after three generations, over nearly seven decades, will evoke a host of emotions from the Beetle’s many devoted fans."

The demise of the Beetle is yet another sign of the times. Bloomberg Automotive Reporter Keith Naughton said, "Consumer now want SUVs and crossover vehicles. They don't really want cars, particularly small cars. So, 'Herbie the Love Bug' is going to be no longer."

The original Beetle was commissioned by Adolf Hitler in Germany before World War II. Naughton said it was intended to be a car for the masses. (Volkswagen is German for "people's car.) Hitler wanted it to be Germany's answer to Ford's Model T. After coming to the U.S. in the 1950s, the Bug quickly attracted a cult following, and was later featured in Disney's "Herbie the Love Bug" series of movies. 

While production of the original car ended in 2003, the "New Beetle" was born for the 1998 model year. Naughton said the new incarnation was an instant hit with Baby Boomers, "Particularly women, and it was a very popular seller early on. But then over time, sales declined. A lot of those women who bought the New Beetle, as it was called, moved on to crossover vehicles like a Ford Escape or a Honda CR-V."

One note of solace for Beetle lovers - it may not be gone for good. When VW executive Woebcken was asked Thursday if the iconic car could someday make yet another return, he said, "Never say never."

The current VW Beetle is made in Puebla, Mexico. The company plans to produce special models for the car's final run next year.

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