It’s the end of an era and a sad day for car lovers the world over as German carmaker Volkswagen announced it is ceasing production of the final model of its iconic Beetle.
The last Beetle will roll off the production line in 2019, and while it’s sure to bring a tear to the eye of many revheads, Volkswagen Chief Executive Officer Hinrich J. Woebcken has assured the last model will be spruced with plenty of fantastic features that are sure to leave car enthusiasts drooling.
“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,” Woebcken said on Thursday.
“As we move to being a full-line, family-focused automaker in the US and ramp up our electrification strategy with the MEB platform, there are no immediate plans to replace it. But as we have seen with the I.D. BUZZ – which is the modern and practical interpretation of the legendary Bus – I would also say, ‘never say never’.”
While Volkswagen stopped production of the original Beetle in 2003, it has still been producing its newer 1998 model until now.
The plucky little car enjoyed huge success throughout the 1960s and ’70s, and was the highest-selling vehicle in America during that period. It became synonymous with hippy and surf culture, but was also lauded for being a sturdy and reliable car that suited both families and singles.
While the Beetle is widely regarded now as one of the funnest cars around, its origins were far from ideal. The Beetle originated in Nazi Germany and was a direct result of Adolf Hitler’s request for a reliable car that German families could use to travel the country. Although the first model didn’t roll off the production line until 1945, it had been on the drawing board since 1934 when Hitler held a meeting with Porche, which is owned by Volkswagen, to discuss a new car.
Fast forward to 1963 and, according to Fast Company, nearly every third car on the road in West Germany was a Beetle. The car even became the star of a movie when The Love Bug, about a little white car that had a mind of its own, was released in 1969.
While it’s popularity faded in the ’80s, Volkswagen found huge success with the Beetle again when it released an updated model with a sleeker, more rounded look in 1998. It quickly became the must-have car for a whole new generation and evoked plenty of nostalgia from Baby Boomers who’d owned the original model in their youth.
The company ceased production on the original design of the Beetle in 2003, and now its modern version is also retiring to the garage one last time. While it may not be zipping out of driveways anytime soon, there is little doubt the colourful little car will go down in history as one of the most beloved vehicles of all time.