The Grand Tour host James May called the Volkswagen Beetle “the most significant and important car ever made.” Introduced in 1938, the VW Beetle has spent more than 80 years on Earth ferrying people to work, school, first dates, meet-ups, protests, job interviews, and so much more. However, all good things must come to an end eventually, and for the Beetle, that’s this month. VW has announced production for the Beetle is officially over.
“It’s impossible to imagine where Volkswagen would be without the Beetle,” said Scott Keogh, President and CEO, Volkswagen Group of America. “From its first import in 1949 to today’s retro-inspired design, it has showcased our company’s ability to fit round pegs into square holes of the automotive industry.”
It’s surprising that after 81 years, there’ve only been three generations of the famous Beetle. While the iconic Beetle made famous by Herbie the Love Bug ended production in 2003, the German automaker introduced the New Beetle in 1998, giving the two-door runabout a new look that mixed modern vehicle design with the Beetle’s classic arched look. In 2011, VW made the Beetle even sleeker, taking away its iconic rounded top for something a bit more coupe-like even though the sloping roof blended perfectly into the rear.
While initial sales were strong with the redesign, the car’s funky appearance could not overcome consumers forcing to crossovers and SUVs. In 2018, Volkswagen sold just 14,411 Beetles in the U.S., the lowest since 2011 when VW changed from the second-gen Beetle to the current generation.
The final Beetle from VW’s Puebla plant in Mexico will head to Volkswagen’s museum in the city. The last cars built for the U.S. will join Volkswagen of America’s collection of historic vehicles. The factory will now shift its resources to producing a new compact SUV tailored to the North American market, which will slot below the Tiguan. It’s sad to see such an icon go, but as Keogh said in the press release, “While its time has come, the role it has played in the evolution of our brand will be forever cherished.”
ICONIC VOLKSWAGEN BEETLE ENDS PRODUCTION
Herndon, VA — After its multi-generational run as a brand mainstay and global automotive phenomenon, the Volkswagen Beetle is ending production. The final car produced by Volkswagen de Mexico’s Puebla plant—a Denim Blue coupe—will live on display at Volkswagen’s local museum in Puebla as a lasting tribute to the automobile’s rich and storied heritage. Volkswagen de Mexico will soon shift resources to produce a North American market-focused compact SUV that fits in the manufacturer’s lineup below the Tiguan.
“It’s impossible to imagine where Volkswagen would be without the Beetle,” said Scott Keogh, President and CEO, Volkswagen Group of America. “From its first import in 1949 to today’s retro-inspired design, it has showcased our company’s ability to fit round pegs into square holes of the automotive industry. While its time has come, the role it has played in the evolution of our brand will be forever cherished.”
Introduced to America as the Type 1, Volkswagen sold nearly five million Beetles in the United States, and a worldwide total of 21.5 million cars. In 1998, the New Beetle—an early automotive adopter of “modern retro” design language—re-introduced the familiar silhouette to a new generation of drivers, and sold more than 1.2 million cars between 1998 and 2010. In 2011, the third, and current generation of Beetle went on sale in the U.S. as a 2012 model, and more than 500,000 have been built since.
Sold in both coupe and convertible variants, the second- and third-generation of Beetles have collectively been produced in 23 different exterior colors, 32 interior trims, 13 varying engine configurations and 19 special editions, including the Dune, Denim, Coast and #PinkBeetle. All second- and third-generation Beetles have been built by Volkswagen de Mexico, Puebla, and have been sold in 91 markets worldwide.
The end of Beetle production will allow Puebla’s resources to shift production to a new compact SUV tailored to the North American market, slotting into the lineup below the Tiguan.
After its celebration, the final Beetle will be displayed at Volkswagen’s museum in the city of Puebla, Mexico. The last cars built for the U.S., a pair of Kings Red vehicles with custom dashes, keys and quilted seats, will join Volkswagen of America’s collection of historic vehicles.