Volkswagen to end production of iconic Beetle

German car manufacturer Volkswagen will cease global production of its iconic Beetle after nearly seven decades of US sales, the company’s American unit announced.

In a statement issued on Thursday, Volkswagen Group of America said global production of the “Bug” car would end in July 2019 and announced two final edition models.

“The loss of the Beetle after three generations, over nearly seven decades, will evoke a host of emotions from the Beetle’s many devoted fans,” CEO of the unit, Hinrich Woebcken, said. 

While there are “no immediate plans to replace it”, Woebcken added: “I would also say, never say never.”

The Beetle was introduced in Nazi Germany in 1938, after Adolf Hitler had asked automotive engineer Ferdinand Porsche to design a people’s car (Volkswagen in German). 

Hitler speaks on the podium prior to laying the cornerstone for a giant automobile factory in Fallersleben near Hanover, Germany in 1938 [The Associated Press]

The bulbous car came to the US in 1949 and became a transportation mode of choice for hippies in the 1960s. 

US sales stopped in 1979, after which the second and third generation models were introduced. Volkswagen revived it in the US in 1998 but it attracted mainly female buyers.

The company revamped it for the 2012 model year in an effort to make it appeal to men. US sales rose fivefold to more than 29,000 in the first year, rising to just over 46,000 in 2013 but tailing off after that.

Last year VW sold only 15,166, according to Autodata Corp.

More than 21.5 million original Beetles were manufactured worldwide until the last one that was produced in Mexico in 2003.

The last original Volkswagen Beetle was produced in Puebla, Mexico in 2003 [Andrew Winning/The Associated Press]

SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies

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