Volkswagen Kills Beetle, Ending Production of Iconic Vehicle

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is looking it quits for its iconic Beetle, ending an 80-year international run for a automobile that launched many People to the German model within the 1960s.

The German auto maker stated it might cease constructing the compact subsequent yr at a manufacturing facility in Mexico, the final plant on this planet to make the automobile.

The most recent era of the Beetle debuted in 2011, however its roots return to 1938 as VW’s first automobile. It is without doubt one of the longest-lived and best-selling autos of all time, with 22.7 million offered world-wide.

Manufacturing of the unique Beetle resulted in 2003, however a more-modern model of the automobile that was bigger and had extra creature comforts debuted in 1997. The newer mannequin has been produced in Puebla, Mexico, since 1999.

For a lot of People, the Beetle is a quintessential “hippie automobile” of the infant boomer era, whose success paved the best way for an inflow of inexpensive overseas fashions within the 1970s and 1980s.

VW’s determination marks the second time the automobile will disappear from American showrooms. U.S. gross sales of the Beetle stopped in 1979 and resumed with the newer iteration of the automobile in 1998. The revamped Beetle, which featured a dashboard flower vase and front-mounted engine, was changed by a extra muscular-looking model in 2011. However neither redesign caught on like the unique amongst its child boomer followers or youthful generations of automobile patrons.

The VW Beetle’s Lengthy Run in Photographs

After morphing from a Third Reich work mission to a counterculture icon, the Beetle will likely be produced no extra starting subsequent yr. Right here’s a glimpse of its 80-year historical past.

The 2019 Volkswagen Beetle, impressed by its forebears, will likely be among the many final of its form.

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“The [original] Beetle was a legend,” stated David Kiley, creator of the ebook “Getting The Bugs Out: The Rise Fall and Comeback of Volkswagen in America.” “However the tepid response to this newest Beetle is proof that even Child Boomers have moved on,” he stated.

Although the U.S. is the automobile’s greatest market immediately, VW offered solely 15,000 Beetles within the nation final yr. That’s lower than 5% of the 339,700 vehicles the corporate offered within the U.S. in 2017.

Firm officers stated the transfer comes as VW focuses on different fashions and its electric-car lineup, however left the door open for a return of its best-known nameplate. “There are not any rapid plans to switch it,” stated Hinrich J. Woebcken, the top of VW’s American operations.

The Volkswagen Beetle was meant as a automobile for the German plenty.

Picture:

Gamma-Keystone/Getty Photos

The Beetle joins a rising variety of small-car and sedan fashions being retired within the U.S. amid a shift in client desire towards crossovers, SUVs and pickup vehicles. These bigger, extra versatile autos now make up two-thirds of U.S. gross sales and have a tendency to return larger revenue margins. Different automobile makers, equivalent to Fiat Chrysler Vehicles NV and Ford Motor Co., have killed off or plan to desert a number of slow-selling automobile fashions lately.

The transfer to kill the Beetle comes as President Donald Trump has criticized imports from Germany and after a brand new U.S. commerce take care of Mexico that business consultants say may inflate prices for some Mexican-built small vehicles shipped to the U.S.

A U.S. spokesman for VW stated the choice to halt manufacturing was unrelated to adjustments in U.S. commerce coverage. To make up for the lack of the Beetle, VW’s Puebla plant will shift to manufacturing of different fashions, he stated.

A scene from the 1980 movie ‘Herbie Goes Bananas.’

A scene from the 1980 film ‘Herbie Goes Bananas.’

Picture:

Buena Vista Photos/Everett Assortment

The unique Beetle turned a logo of the youth-driven counterculture and peace motion of the 1960s, regardless of its roots as a automobile ordered up by Adolf Hitler within the 1930s as an affordable automobile for the German plenty.

Annual U.S. gross sales of the mannequin peaked at 423,008 vehicles through the heyday of its recognition in 1968, the identical yr a Beetle named Herbie was featured within the Disney movie “The Love Bug.”

Buoyed by its success with the Beetle, VW turned the primary overseas model to open a manufacturing facility within the U.S. in 1978. That plant in New Stanton, Pa., was closed amid slumping gross sales in 1987. A number of a long time later, VW opened one other U.S. manufacturing facility in Chattanooga, Tenn., that now produces the Passat sedans and the Atlas SUV.

A VW Beetle covered with ice crystals.

A VW Beetle coated with ice crystals.

Picture:

KARL-JOSEF HILDENBRAND/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/Getty Photos

Write to Chester Dawson at chester.dawson@wsj.com



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