Volkswagen to End Production of Iconic Beetle in 2019

By Paul Riegler on 13 September 2018
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2013 Volkswagen Beetle TDI Convertible

After three generations and seven decades, Volkswagen will end production of the Beetle come next year.

To commemorate the final year of production, Volkswagen will add two commemorative models, the Final Edition SE and Final Edition SEL.

Earlier this year, Volkswagen announced it would not replace the current Beetle with an updated model but declined to provide specifics.  Now the Wolfsburg-based automaker has made it clear that the end is in sight.

But is it?

VW's sporty Beetle R-Line

VW’s sporty Beetle R-Line

In announcing the news, Hinrich J. Woebcken, CEO of Volkswagen of America, left the door open for the Beetle to be revived at a future date.

“Never say never,” Woebcken said.

Meanwhile, Volkswagen will offer the Final Edition Beetle with special trim in both coupe and cabriolet variants and model-specific colors, which are Safari Uni and Stonewashed Blue with model-specific chrome accents, body-colored side mirrors, and Final Edition-specific wheels. The Final Editions will also be available in white, black, and gray.

The original, officially known as the Volkswagen Type 1 and suggested in 1933 by German Reichskanzler Adolf Hitler who, at that year’s Internationalen Automobil-und Motorrad-Ausstellung, asked the industry to come up with an inexpensive, simple people’s car (Volkswagen is German for “people’s car”) for the country’s new Autobahn network.

Designed by Ferdinand Porsche, what became known as the Beetle made its debut in 1938 and was produced until 2003, with the exception of the period of the Second World War.

The Volkswagen Type 1 became known in Germany as the Käfer and in France as the Coccinelle (lady bug) and was produced in significant numbers only after the end of the Second World War.
Over 21.5 million were built during that timeframe, including 330,251 Cabriolets. This made the Beetle the longest-running and most-manufactured car on a single platform ever produced.

While the Beetle was succeeded in 1974 by the Volkswagen Golf, known as the Rabbit in some markets including the United States, Volkswagen continued to manufacturer the original Beetle for some time given its popularity. In the 1970s, the Beetle captured 5% of the U.S. auto market repeatedly.

In 1997, the Wolfsburg-based automaker launched a second successor, the New Beetle, to carry on the original’s retro design and friendly face.

In 2011, Volkswagen, recognizing that the New Beetle had never achieved the success or cult status of the original, introduced a completely new Beetle, marketed in some countries as the Coccinelle, Maggiolino, and Fusca, for the 2012 model year.

Soon to be in its final year of production, the (lower-case) new Beetle featured a lower profile while continuing to maintain the overall shape that recalled the original Volkswagen Type 1, albeit with a more aggressive and modern appearance to further distance it from the New Beetle.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)