Volkswagen Beetle Says Auf Wiedersehen As Production Officially Ends
We knew the end was coming. The very last Volkswagen Beetle just rolled off the production line in Puebla, Mexico, ending one of history’s most storied automotive nameplates and providing the starkest example yet of the automaker’s transition to electric and utility vehicles. Now that the Beetle is gone, the Mexico plant will shift its focus to producing a North American-focused compact SUV in 2020.
The Beetle traces its history back to the dark days of Nazi Germany in the 1930s. By 1949, the car had made its way to the U.S. as the Type 1, but it wasn’t until the 1960s that the Beetle name was officially used. The rear-engine compact ended its run here in 1977, with nearly 5 million copies sold in the U.S., but production continued globally through 2003 with sales totaling 21.5 million. In 1998, the New Beetle gave fresh life to the nameplate even while the original was still being sold, and more than 1.2 million of these were delivered through 2010. The third iteration of Beetle, of which more than 500,000 were built, arrived in the U.S. in 2011 with a more modern take on the car’s classic styling.
We’ll miss the Bug, particularly the coupe. While the last convertible we tested was noisy and felt a bit brittle, the coupe boasted a solid ride quality and a quiet cabin belying its age. We also enjoyed the Beetle’s punchy turbo-four engine making 174 hp. The last two generations produced 19 special editions, from the playful Dune and Denim to the cheery #PinkBeetle. Admittedly, the Golf is overall a more efficient and practical hatch, sitting on a newer platform, but it doesn’t have quite the same charm and quirkiness.
If you think VW may revive the Beetle as an electric car, don’t get your hopes up. VW boss Herbert Diess said back in March there are no plans for such a vehicle. The automaker, however, is bringing back the Microbus in the form of a new van previewed by the ID Buzz.
The compact SUV to be built in Puebla will slot below the Tiguan. According to Automotive News, the vehicle will be based on the Chinese-market Tarek but will take on a different moniker in the U.S. Sales of the crossover are said to begin by the end of 2021.