The American unit of German carmaker Volkswagen has decided to stop the global production of its iconic Beetle in July 2019, after around 70 years of sales in the US, signalling the end of an era. The decision comes amid falling demand for passenger cars in general as customers’ preferences shift towards SUVs and other larger vehicles.
The Beetle first came out in Germany in 1938 and then to the US in 1949. Its popularity peaked during the 1960s helped by movies and the non-conformist culture of the period. Volkswagen sold well over 400,000 units at the time and built its first factory in North America due to the high demand.
Following a slump, the automaker rolled out another two models at the end of the 1970s in the US and subsequently made several attempts to overhaul the car’s image. Sales increased meaningfully in the US during 2012 and 2013 before dwindling shortly thereafter. In 2017, the company was able to sell just over 15,000 units.
Volkswagen will release two last models called the Final Edition SE and Final Edition SEL. The company’s first North American factory, located in Mexico, will produce the last Beetle next year. Although Volkswagen does not have any immediate plans to replace the Beetle amid its new strategies, the automaker does not entirely rule out the possibility.
There are speculations within the industry that the Beetle could make a comeback as an electric car but for the time being, parent Volkswagen has simply decided to call it a day on its iconic Love Bug.