After selling it on and off in the U.S. for nearly seven decades, Volkswagen has decided to squash its iconic Beetle.
The company’s American unit announced that it would end global production of the third-generation bug in July of next year after offering two special 2019 editions.
The compact Beetle was introduced in Germany in 1938, during the Nazi era. Eleven years later it came to the U.S., where eventually it became a symbol of utilitarian transportation often used by hippies. The classic Beetle sold for about 30 years before U.S. sales stopped in 1979. The last of the original bugs was produced in Puebla, Mexico, in 2003.
Volkswagen revived the model in the U.S. in 1998 as a more modern “New Beetle”; its buyers were primarily women. In an effort to increase its appeal to men, the company revamped the car for the 2012 model year, giving it a flatter roof, less bulbous shape, a bigger trunk and a navigation system.
U.S. sales rose fivefold to more than 29,000 in the first year, reaching just over 46,000 in 2013 but tailing off after that. Last year VW sold only 15,166, according to Autodata Corp.
The special editions available in the final 2019 model year will come in coupe and convertible body styles, with unique beige and blue colors in addition to the normal hues. Standard on the special editions: extra chrome, new wheels and three-color ambient lighting inside.
Volkswagen has no immediate plans to revive the Beetle again but wouldn’t rule it out.
In 2022, the company plans to roll out an electric version of the old VW Bus called the I.D. Buzz.