By this year, the Volkswagen Beetle will be no more. The German automaker announced that they will be discontinuing the iconic car about two years ago, saying that 2019 will be the last year of production and 2020 being the final model year of the car. That wraps up over 80 years of production, which began all the way back to 1938.
Volkswagen paid tribute to the Beetle by releasing a short film dubbed “The Last Mile”. There, it chronicles the Beetle and the different eras it spanned through the years. It mainly focuses on the the 'Type 1' model, which was in production from the late 30's, right up until 2004. While the current Beetle doesn't make an appearance there, it's still a fitting tribute to the Bug nonetheless.
The Volkswagen Beetle did have somewhat dark beginnings with Adolf Hitler wanting a 'people's car' (hence, Volkswagen). Its original purpose was to drive the German masses, but it was actually a way for SS to get its citizens to fund the war effort. It was produced in limited numbers, mostly reserved for military officials.
It was only after the war did the Beetle fulfill its promise of being a 'people's car'. Uncovered by British Major Ivan Hearst, he commanded to restart the production of the Beetle, and the rest is history. The original Beetle sold in huge numbers in the early 50's, became one of the symbols of counter culture in the 60's, almost killed off in the 70's by the Golf, but soldiered on in the 80's to the early 2000's.
The second-generation Beetle came about in 1999 as the New Beetle. It rode on the fourth-generation Golf, and even saw various iterations such as the TDI (diesel) and even the high-performance RSi which packed a 3.2-liter V6 making 224 PS. It was redesigned from the ground up in 2011, which would be its final iteration.
Even though sales of the modern versions didn't match the original article, the Beetle has become a cult icon for many generations. Even though the Beetle as we know it is just a few miles from the end, there is still a chance it might come back. Volkswagen's electric I.D sub brand revived the Kombi (or Bus, or Transporter) into a pure EV, so don't rule out the Beetle making a comeback just yet.
For now though, it's goodbye, and thanks for all the memories, Volkswagen Beetle.