Volkswagen calls time on the Beetle

Volkswagen is to end production of its iconic and beloved Beetle in 2019 after a series of celebration run-out models

Volkswagen is killing off the Beetle. The German auto manufacturer has confirmed that Beetle production will end in July 2019 after a series of celebration models roll out from the VW factory in Mexico.

The iconic name and shape may hold steadfast roots in Nazi Germany, but it lived up to its literal 'people's car' name in an entirely different manner, becoming an icon of the 1960s counter-culture peace movement. The Beetle even captured the hearts of millions of children with Disney’s Herbie film series – the racing Volkswagen Beetle with a mind of its own.

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Boasting record sales throughout more than 60 years in production, with three generations of upgraded styling, sales have fallen in recent years, down by 2.2% this year. Sales were especially important in North America, where Volkswagen has suffered the largest market drop.

According to market insiders, customers in the US have been turning to far larger cars, such as SUVs and crossovers – such as the similarly retro-inspired Fiat 500X. There doesn't appear to be a market segment for the VW Beetle as there was ten years ago.

Volkswagen is slimming down their entire model range, with investment in electric vehicles taking primary emphasis. In the wake of the self-inflicted diesel emissions scandal, budgets have reputedly been cut; leaving less-performing models to be axed.

'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,' said Hinrich Woebcken, chief executive of Volkswagen Group of America.

For those still tinged with nostalgia, there's still time to buy one. Final Beetle models will be available in both convertible and coupé styles – but you’ll need to order fast, as numbers will be limited.

Nazi origins

Originally designed in the mid-1930s by the legendary Ferdinand Porsche at the behest of Adolf Hitler, the car’s original aim was to provide the masses with cheap, practical mass-produced transport.

However, with the outbreak of WWII, production stalled and the Volkswagen factory fell into allied hands. Production took off after the political deals of the war, and by 1955 a total of 1 million Beetles were clattering up German roads.

Production of the Beetle has been terminated and then re-introduced a number of times over the years, with the final ‘original’ Beetle rolling off the Mexican production line back in 2003. The ‘New Beetle’ design was based upon the existing Volkswagen Golf, and stormed the U.S after a wave of publicity. More than 80,000 examples were sold in 1999 alone.

There are reports that a possible model revamp may be in the works, with an electric variant on the way – but we’ll have to wait and see what’s in store. But it appears the Beetle might finally disappear for good.

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