Volkswagen is to cease production of its Beetle next year.
The car is one of the world’s most iconic designs, but sales – notably in the US – have slowed in recent years.
“The loss of the Beetle after three generations, over nearly seven decades, will evoke a host of emotions”
The German manufacturer said output would halt at its factory in Mexico in 2019. Celebration models are to be released beforehand.
Hinrich Woebcken, chief executive of Volkswagen Group America, said: “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”.
The VW Beetle has its roots in Nazi-era Germany, having been designed as a “people’s car”. Years later, the motor starred in a series of 1960s Disney films called Herbie.
The Beetle was originally designed in the 1930s by engineer Ferdinand Porsche, better known for his eponymous sports motors. The Beetle was a request from Adolf Hitler, who wanted an affordable, practical car for the German people.
However, when war broke out, production of the car was stalled as military construction was the priority. The plant was severely damaged, and later fell into the hands of allied forces, who played a significant part in recommissioning the car.
‘Never say never’
VW remade the classic Beetle in 1998, attracting mainly female buyers. In 2012, the company attempted to appeal to men too, giving the car a flatter roof and less curvy shape. Sales rose five-fold initially, but then fell.
Indeed, despite the Beetle’s fame, customers opting to purchase a car in the price bracket have increasingly moved towards sports utility vehicles.
In the first eight months of 2018, VW sold just 11,151 Beetles – down 2.2 per cent year on year.
Now, VW is to focus on its flagship fleet and the development of electric vehicles. While the company has no plans to ever revive the model, MrÂ Woebcken said: “Never say never”.