It's time to say goodbye to yet another automotive icon. After first announcing of its eventual discontinuation last March 2018, and then releasing the Final Edition six months after, Volkswagen has rolled out the last Beetle at the Puebla plant in Mexico.
“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 showcased our company’s ability to fit round pegs into square holes of the automotive industry. While its time has come, the role it has played in the evolution of our brand will be forever cherished,” said Scott Keogh, president and CEO of Volkswagen Group of America.
Rolling off the Puebla factory line is a Denim Blue coupe which features a distinct blue paintjob. But don't expect to see this particular Beetle hitting the streets however as Volkswagen plans to keep it for themselves. That's right, it will be a museum piece in Puebla as a lasting tribute to the automobile's rich and storied heritage.
First introduced way back in 1938, the Beetle became an instant hit after World War 2 due to its simplicity, reliability and practicality as the quintessential 'people's car'. Powered by an air-cooled engine instead of a water-cooled one, its simple mechanics meant it was a cheap and durable vehicle that can be used by all during the postwar era. It then went on to develop a cult following and became a symbol of the 60's hippie counterculture in the US.
With the onset of stricter emission regulatons in the 70's however, Volkswagen had difficulty making and selling it to Europe as well as in North America. Eventually, production of the small car stopped in Germany in 1978 although models continued to to be built in Mexico until 2003.
Then in 1997, Volkswagen decided to bring back the people's car with the 'New Beetle'. While it has more similarities to a modern Golf, the retro-inspired design and the funky-looking interior was able to attract new and existing buyers of the Beetle. It was then followed by the third-generation model which was first introduced in 2011.
In the end, worldwide total sales of the first-generation Beetle reached 21.5 million cars. The first of the New Beetles, however ,sold more than 1.2 million globally between 1998 and 2010. Finally, the final generation of the Beetle sold more than 500,000.
With Volkswagen de Mexico no longer producing the Beetle, the factory will soon shift to building a new compact SUV for the North American market. Volkswagen has yet to say what the new SUV will be but they did mention that it will slot below the Tiguan.
As Volkswagen and the rest of the world bid farewell to the Beetle, Volkswagen believes that the Beetle will continue to serve as an inspiration for all car manufacturers in the years to come.