The Volkswagen Beetle is finally dead after over 80 years of production.
For 80 years, a car named “Beetle” has roamed the Earth like a living dinosaur. Originally designed in the 1930s at the request of Adolf Hitler, the “People’s Car” didn’t enter full production until after World War II.
From there it spread like a plague, perhaps better to be called the Volkswagen Locust than the Beetle. From 1938 to 2003, over 21.5 million bugs were produced. More incredibly, the car never saw a true redesign. Each of those Beetles was built on a mostly unchanged chassis for 75 years making it the most manufactured and longest-running car ever on a single platform.
But the Beetle didn’t die easy. A car with that much fame and respect could only have inspired the new-retro automotive movement, and so Volkswagen unveiled the New Beetle in 1997. Built in Puebla, Mexico, the car was yet another smash hit with 1.2 million produced.
Today, you can pick one of these New Beetles up for a steal and then convert it into a tiny pickup truck. That’s probably the best use for them.
Then the New Beetle gave way to yet another Beetle, this time dubbed the A5-gen Beetle. You could say this was a second generation to the New Beetle, but Volkswagen preferred to drop the “New” moniker and just go back to calling it the Beetle.
The new New Beetle didn’t enjoy nearly as much success as the New Beetle or the Old Beetle. Just 500,000 were built between 2011 and July of 2019 when the last one rolled off the assembly line at Volkswagen’s facility in Puebla. The final Beetle will live out its days in Volkswagen’s museum in the town which it was built.
"It's impossible to imagine where Volkswagen would be without the Beetle," Volkswagen of America president and CEO Scott Keogh said in a statement. "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."
Puebla will now gear up to produce an as-yet-unnamed small SUV for the North American market that will sit below the Tiguan. More on that once Volkswagen drops more info.