The last Beetle, or not . . .

CHAMPAGNE corks will be flying and tears will be rolling in Mexico this week when the last Beetle rolls off the Puebla assembly line, where millions of other Beetles continued to be built after production in other parts of the world stopped quite a while ago.

VW said the last 2019 VW Beetle was one finished in Denim Blue and would remain in Mexico. 

After celebrations, and no doubt many a damp tissue, the car will join the VW Museum in the city of Puebla — a fitting tribute noting the second-generation New Beetle and the final third-generation car were both built in Puebla their entire lives. 

Two Beetles will also remain in VW’s heritage collection in the US.

Scott Keogh, president of Volkswagen Group of America, marked the end of an era and said VW was grateful for the good fortunes the Beetle name has brought the brand over decades.

“While its time has come, the role it has played in the evolution of our brand will be forever cherished,” he said.

“It’s impossible to imagine where Volkswagen would be without the Beetle.

“From its first import in 1949 to today’s retro-inspired design, it has showed our company’s ability to fit round pegs into square holes of the automotive industry.”

It’s surprising that after 81 years, there have only been three generations of the famous Beetle. 

In total, the original Beetle found 21.5 million buyers around the world and became a smash-hit for the German brand. 

The iconic Beetle was made famous in the US by Herbie the Love Bug, but it ended production in 2003, and the New Beetle arrived in 1998, giving the two-door runabout a new look that mixed modern vehicle design with the Beetle’s classic arched look.

Again, VW found success, with 1.2 million units sold through 2010.

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 increasingly changing to crossovers and SUVs. 

The final generation Beetle dropped the “New” prefix and went on sale in 2012. But, it never caught on quite like the generations that preceded it.

VW said since 2012, 500,000 third-generation Beetles were built. The second- and third-generation cars were available in 91 markets around the world.

Although the Beetle is extinct in Puebla, VW has other plans for the assembly plant.

The factory instead will build a small crossover for the US that is smaller than the Tiguan compact crossover, which should attract more buyers than the Beetle. 

But don’t count the Beetle out just yet.

Whispers of the model’s return as an electric car have persisted following VW’s battery-electric transformation. 

Top brass has indicated the company’s electric-car platform is a good opportunity to produce emotional vehicles.


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