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Beetle tour delayed

Fab four: A range of petrol and diesel four-cylinder engines will again be fitted under the bonnet of the all-new Beetle.

Iconic Beetle remains on hold until 2013 as VW staggers major launch program

Volkswagen logo9 Jul 2012

By BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS

VOLKSWAGEN has decided to delay the release of the already overdue second-generation New Beetle until early 2013.

Originally slated for launch late this year, the Mexican-built Beetle Coupe will take a back seat as the company concentrates on forging new markets with the entry-level Up light car and the Passat-based Alltrack all-wheel-drive wagon.

Thought to be priced from well under $15,000, the Up will be by far the cheapest Volkswagen sold in Australia, taking on the Suzuki Alto and Holden Barina Spark in the lower end of the new-car market, while the Alltrack is the company’s response to the popular Subaru Outback.

Volkswagen Group Australia managing director Anke Koeckler said the Beetle will spearhead what Volkswagen calls its “emotional” model launch program in 2013, which will also include the seventh-generation Golf small car in the second quarter of next year.

“It won’t be happening this year,” said Ms Koeckler of the Beetle.

“In January, our plans were still to launch the Beetle by the end of this year, but now we realise it doesn’t make sense to release every new model in the last quarter, so we decided to launch this car in the first quarter of 2013.

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“Cars like the Up and the Beetle are emotional products, so it is better to start the year in 2013 talking about the emotion of the brand, and the Beetle is the perfect opportunity to do this.

“We want to make sure that this car gets the right amount of exposure. If we squeeze its launch in the last quarter, it just won’t get it.” Ms Koeckler said the Beetle, as an ‘emotional’ Volkswagen, “is not about the volume” but is about brand building.

“It is more about the brand. The Beetle supports the brand and we want to make sure this gets the right positioning and exposure in the Australian market.

“Therefore I didn’t want it squeezed in during November or December when everybody is already thinking about Christmas.”

While Ms Koeckler revealed that the Beetle coupe will beat the cabriolet version to market, she refused to confirm whether we will see diesel or high-performance R versions of Volkswagen’s retro icon.

“All I can say is that it will be just the coupe for now. Everything else you will have to wait and see,” she said.

Released in Australia in January 2000, the outgoing New Beetle remained only a bit player in Volkswagen’s unrelenting sales drive during the decade that unfolded, never exceeding its first year total of 1328 units – even when the Cabriolet version joined the range in mid-2003.

There was a sales spike following the release of the Series II facelift in 2005 and the addition of a diesel, but overall the retro Volkswagen averaged just over 730 sales a year before it was discontinued in 2011.

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