For Beetle fans over the world, it will be a sad moment when production of the eight decades old Bug comes to a halt in July 2019.
Hinrich J. Woebcken, President and CEO, Volkswagen Group of America, Inc announced that the “people’s car” will be discontinued and Volkswagen were to “ramp up our electrification strategy with the MEB platform, there are no immediate plans to replace it. But as we have seen with the I.D. BUZZ—which is the modern and practical interpretation of the legendary Bus – I would also say, ‘Never say never’”; reviving an iota of hope that maybe in the foreseeable future a transformed Beetle may again come off the production line.
The Volkswagen Type 1 – “Kafer” which means “Beetle” in German, was designed in the 1930s during the Nazi era by Ferdinand Porsche. With an engine in the boot, easily seating five, this Type 1 model resembled a stormtrooper’s helmet.
Post WW II, the beetle was launched in North America where it steadily became a life-style symbol for the Woodstock generation and baby boomers.
It gained popularity and a following when Disney featured it in a movie, “The Love Bug” and the Beatles used it on the cover of their album Abbey Road. The novelist Geoff Nicholson wrote about the Beetle: “It was never much fun to drive. It was a nightmare going round tight bends and lethal in a crosswind … The old Beetle was quirky, eccentric: the engine was in the wrong place; the pedals seemed to be in the wrong place; rear visibility was thrillingly, dangerously nonexistent.”
During the 1990’s, Volkswagen introduced the modern “New Beetle” targeting mainly women buyers. They then revamped it in the early 2000’s to attract a male clientele. This move saw a remarkable surge in sales, sadly though the Beetle couldn’t hold its spot as the World’s most popular car.
In 2017, industry stats show that only 15,166 Beetles were sold worldwide. Could be a result of the “dieselgate scandal” that hit VW in 2015 where VW had been installing illegal emission devices in hundreds of thousands of 2.0-litre engines.
As a consolation for Beetle lovers, Volkswagen has said to launch two new Final models of the Bug in 2019. These two models will have new improved features gracing the interior and exterior of the car.