Breaking news from Volkswagen America will have slug bug fans feeling sentimental and Beetle lovers in disbelief. After three long generations and seven decades of producing one of America's most recognized and treasured vehicles, the longest-running car in automotive history, the Volkswagen Beetle, will cease production by the end of the 2019 model-year.
Automotive fans had been suspecting this for some time and the news was officially confirmed on Thursday. But it isn't just fans of the small car with a big personality that are saddened by the announcement.
“The loss of the Beetle after three generations ... will evoke a host of emotions from the Beetle’s many devoted fans,” President and Chief Executive Officer of Volkswagen America Hinrich J. Woebcken said in a prepared statement.'
The first Beetle was born in Germany shortly after World War II in 1949. Its quirky design quickly made it the topic of conversation among many Americans. While some immediately took to the little car and considered its style "fun", others thought it was "interesting." Either way, the car's popularity gained momentum through the 70's. But in 2003, production was stopped on the Beetle due to slow sales. They Were churning out 30,000 a year as compared to the highest peak of 1.3 million.
Then Volkswagen decided to try a fresh take soon after, debuting the “New Beetle”, but unfortunately, it didn't have the effect with car buyers as the company hoped it would. The company stayed optimistic and tried again, launching a third brand new version in 2011. But sales still remained sluggish.
The silver lining of this gloomy news is that the German automaker has already launched the "Final Edition" Beetle model, a special version of both the coupe and convertible models that will be available sometime next year. Beetle fans will want to get their hands on one of these Final Edition models as quickly as they can after they are released. Per NBC News, this vehicle will be available in two unique colors—Safari Uni and Stonewashed Blue—along with the standard colors that are available now. A few body details will also help the Final Edition stand out such as chrome trim and side mirrors with body-color. Pricing for the Final Edition is expected to start at $23,940 and run into the mid-$30,000 range with options.
A second possible silver lining? “There are no immediate plans to replace [the Beetle],” Woebcken added, “I would also say, 'Never say never.'” Experts are speculating that the Beetle might be reborn with a battery pack under the hood in future years. Dare we dream? We say yes!
In fact, it's been confirmed that Volkswagen has plans to revive another oldie but goodie, the Microbus which was also largely popular in the 70's. The new Microbus is said to be outfitted with battery-electric power. Along with the Microbus, the German automotive company is supposed to be introducing dozens of electric vehicle models in coming years.
In 2019, when we say goodbye to the Beetle as we knew it, the little car that made such a huge impact on society and culture will go down in history boasting the largest production run off of a single platform totaling nearly 22 million.
Goodbye, sweet little Beetle. We hope to see you again soon, better than ever! If not, we'll always have the good memories. Farewell.