VW's head of research and development Frank Welsch, told Autocar at the Geneva Motor Show this week that "two or three generations is enough now."
The executive said that the company’s new T-Roc Convertible will eventually replace the Beetle, Golf and Eos cabriolet models in 2020. And The I.D. Buzz will replace the Beetle as the brand’s so-called “heritage” vehicle in 2022.
The news is disappointing to Beetle enthusiasts who, admittedly, have been dwindling in number. One fan, Julie Linderleaf, a Lansing, Michigan high-school English teacher, says she rewarded herself with a 2017 blue Beetle Cabrio following a divorce.
Julie Linderleaf from Lansing, Michigan is a happy Beetle Cabrio owner sad to find out her car is the last of its kind.
“My feelings are mixed today,” said Linderleaf. “I am glad that I bought my new one before they phased it out, but a bit sad knowing I will never be able to buy a new one again. I will take good care of this one,” she said. “
When the VW board met last November, VW’s Welsch told the enthusiast magazine that it approved a plan for up to 30 electric vehicles in the next ten years, but there was no support for a new Beetle in that mix. Sales have been sluggish and enthusiasm for the design was thin inside the company and among dealers.
Still, there is no vehicle in the history of Volkswagen to have the global impact that the Beetle has had in product design, engineering, marketing and pop culture. Indeed, at the close of the 20thcentury, the Beetle was often cited in the Top Three “Most Influential” vehicles of the era.
There were so many such lists that the VW was likely the one most likely to be in the Top Three on any Top Ten list.
This 1966 Beetle is pretty similar to the original Type-1, conceived in the 1930s.
The Beetle originally sprung from a marriage of visions between Ferdinand Porsche and Adolf Hitler. The former, the leading automotive engineer of his time and the namesake for today’s German company, had long had an idea for a “people’s car,” a mass-produced reliable vehicle that working-class Germans could afford. He modelled the idea after Henry Ford’s Model-T, but with a very different design aesthetic. The Nazi Party Chancellor of Germany admired Porsche’s work and felt that giving working-class Germans an affordable car would endear him to the masses. Hitler also believed he needed to advance Germany’s economy by ruling Europe’s highways with the affordable “Type 1” sedan, which would become known as “The Beetle,” and later “The Bug” to others.
The scheme to mobilize the masses in Germany was interrupted by Germany’s invasion of Eastern Europe and the start of World War Two. The...