Developed in the 1930s, the original Volkswagen Beetle, also known as the Type 1 or the Kafer, was offered to the public in 1938 and remained in production until 2003. The economy car was built in more than 21 million examples in 19 cities from 15 countries, spread over five continents. Pretty impressive achievements for the “people’s car.” The Kafer received a successor in 1997, a neo-retro interpretation Volkswagen calls the New Beetle. But, while the modern compact has been somewhat popular with nostalgic enthusiasts and drivers in need of a fancy yet still affordable means of transportation, the New Beetle won’t reach the heights of its predecessor.
According to a report from Autoline, the new Beetle will be discontinued in 2018, after only 20 years on the market.
Volkswagen has yet to confirm the rumor, but the scenario is far from new. In 2015, German publication Der Spiegel reported that the Volkswagen Group is looking to reduce costs and that the Beetle, which sold a little over 100,000 units a year, was, together with the already discontinued Eos, among the nameplates that are no longer sustainable. Autoline’s more recent report says that Volkswagen wants to focus on crossover and SUVs and that the second-gen New Beetle will bid farewell sometime in 2018 with no successor on the table.
Is this a good idea and will Volkswagen save a few bucks by axing the Beetle? Keep reading to find out.
Why It Matters
The move might make some financial sense for the German group. Previous reports claimed that Volkswagen will save about 200 million by halting Eos production and more than 300 million by axing the Beetle. While these figures are pretty impressive, they’re just pennies for a giant such as the Volkswagen Group. Also, by axing the Beetle, Volkswagen wouldn’t open up a significant production capacity to roll out new crossovers and SUVs. Granted, VW needs at least two more people haulers besides the Touareg and Tiguan in order to become truly competitive in this market, but retiring the Beetle won’t make much of a difference in that direction.
The only thing that makes sense here is Volkswagen’s desire to eliminate slow sellers. However, if the Beetle goes under, it takes a whole lot of heritage with it. The Beetle is arguably Volkswagen’s most iconic model, as well as the second longest-running car name after the Chevrolet Suburban. Also, if it kills the compact, Volkswagen will no longer have a competitor for the Fiat 500 and the Mini Cooper, two cars that also harken back to classic vehicles that left important marks on the industry. Perhaps developing a new Beetle on the MQB modular platform is a better idea? Hopefully, the Germans have yet to reach a final decision and will find sufficient arguments to keep the Beetle alive. That being said, we’ll definitely miss the cheeky Beetle should VW decide it no longer has reason to build it.