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VW Beetle production grinds to a halt – again

Beetle juiced: The third-generation Beetle did not enjoy the same success as its predecessors, with only around 500,000 units sold globally over the past eight years.

Eighty-one years after original, Volkswagen ends Beetle production for second time

Volkswagen logo12 Jul 2019

ONE of the automotive industry’s icons is officially no more, with Volkswagen confirming that the quirky Beetle has ended production for the second time in its colourful 81-year history.

 

The final Beetle rolled off the line at Volkswagen’s Puebla plant in Mexico on July 10, marking the end of a three-generation run for a model that is arguably more recognisable than any other.

 

The last example produced was a coupe finished in Stonewashed Blue paintwork. It will not be available for sale and will instead go on display at Volkswagen’s museum in Puebla.

 

“It’s impossible to imagine where Volkswagen would be without the Beetle,” said Volkswagen Group of America president and chief executive Scott Keogh.

 

“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.”

 

Of course, Volkswagen has been here before with the Beetle, with the original model – known as Type 1 – entering mass production in 1938 before being discontinued on July 30, 2003, at the same Puebla facility no less.

 

During that period, the Beetle was even assembled in Australia for local consumption, starting in 1954, while domestically produced body panels were used from 1960. However, 1968 saw the switch to a new body style take place, forcing the use of imported parts again.

 

The last Australian-assembled Beetle was produced in July 1976, with the second- and third-generation models that followed instead fully imported.

 

Known as the New Beetle, the second iteration of the famous nameplate was introduced in October 1997 and carried on until July 2011, at which point the third and final version – known simply as Beetle – entered the fray.

 

However, neither modern-era Beetle was able to achieve the same level of success as Type 1, which sold a staggering 21.5 million units during its 65-year run. Comparatively, New Beetle and Beetle sold more than 1.2 million and 500,000 units respectively.

 

The modern versions were exclusively built at the Puebla plant and sold in 91 markets. Both were available in coupe and convertible body styles, with 23 exterior colours, 32 interior trims, 13 engine configurations and 19 special editions available during their combined run.

 

Volkswagen has confirmed that the Puebla facility will retool for a new small SUV that will soon be sold in the North American market below the Tiguan mid-sizer.

 

Overseas reports suggest that the new model will not be the T-Cross or T-Roc heading to Australia next year. Instead, it is expected to be based on the Chinese-market Tharu.


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