The little German car that started in a Nazi-era factory and later carried countless hippies to concerts, lovefests and be-ins is nearly at the end of its 80-year journey. Volkswagen announced Thursday that it will cease production of its Beetle in July 2019.
Sales of the carmaker’s reboot of the “people’s car” have fallen dramatically in the U.S., where drivers are increasingly turning to larger cars and SUVs, and away from the modern version of the quirky car that once starred as Disney’s Herbie the 1963 “Love Bug.”
Volkswagen plans to produce a special “Final Edition” celebration Beetle series in the car’s sole factory in Mexico.
The Beetle was originally designed in the 1930s by legendary engineer Ferdinand Porsche at the request of Adolf Hitler, who wanted an inexpensive mass-produced car for Germans. Hitler yanked Porsche away from the Beetle factory to design tanks. But production of the bug was later taken up by the allies after World War II, and the car came to America in 1949.
Production of the Beetle has ceased and restarted several times over the decades, and sales of the original air-cooled version ― battered by compact car competition and environmental laws ― ceased in the U.S. in 1979. The “New Beetle” redesign of the 1990s ― essentially a repurposed VW Golf ― captivated the U.S. market, and sold more than 80,000 in 1999.
“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,” said Hinrich Woebcken, CEO of Volkswagen Group of America.
Bug lovers were shedding tears on Twitter.