Bye-bye Beetle? VW says the retro icon will stick around a bit longer

Ronan Glon/Digital Trends VW Beetle
Ronan Glon/Digital Trends
Ronan Glon/Digital Trends

Earlier this month, the head of Volkswagen R&D caused a bit of a stir when he announced that the VW Beetle will not be replaced and its current generation will be its last. Autocar reported on Frank Welsch’s remarks from the Geneva Motor show that “two or three generations is enough now,” and he also indicated that the VW ID Buzz electric concept would replace the Beetle.

Welsch said the Beetle was “made with history in mind but you can’t do it five times and have a new new new Beetle.”

Not so fast, said the carmaker. In a statement this week to USA Today, VW spokesperson Jeannine Ginivan assured Beetle fans that the iconic vehicle was not being discontinued and would still be available, at least for the near future. Volkswagen launched the New Beetle in 1997, and the latest generation was unveiled in 2011.

With only about 15,000 vehicles delivered last year (down 3.2 percent from the year before) however, the end is probably near for the iconic little bug. Then again, VW has resurrected it once already, so who knows what may happen a few years down the road. It’s currently available as a coupe or convertible, along with the special “Dune” edition.

Volkswagen is hoping the T-Roc convertible, slated for 2020, will take the place of the Beetle convertible, as well as the ragtop versions of the Eos and Golf. VW is also positioning the upcoming ID Buzz as a “heritage” model, with a throwback style reminiscent of the old Microbus. The all-electric vehicle is due in 2021.

There had been rumors that the Beetle would be reborn as a fully electric vehicle, but it seems VW is going in a different direction.

“You can do a bus and be an authentic vehicle with the original shape, and steering wheel mounted like the original,” said Welsch. “You can’t do that with an engine in the front. The shape you see on the concept is realistic.”

“Better to have that than having five generations of a new Beetle,” he added.

The original VW Beetle was first introduced in the United States in 1949 and has endured for decades with only minor modifications. The current generation has been manufactured in Puebla, Mexico since 1997.

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