Today marks the end of the VW Beetle, yet again

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Volkswagen Beetle in a frozen desert Ben Woodworth

Volkswagen is ending production of the Beetle, again. In Mexico, again. In 2003, after making more than 21 million units of the original rear-engine Type I Beetle, VW finally discontinued the first-generation people’s car, which was then being assembled at Volkswagen de Mexico’s factory in Puebla. Now, 16 years and two generations of the Golf-based front-wheel drive New Beetle later, Volkswagen is ending that retro run so it can clear up some capacity to build a compact SUV for the North American market. 

For the time being, VW is discontinuing the Beetle (the “New” was dropped from the name during the second generation) with no immediate plans for another resurrection. When the model was revived as the New Beetle 20 years ago, the automobile industry was in the middle of a retro styling fad, which included the New Beetle, Chrysler’s PT Cruiser, and the Chevy SSR sport pickup. Retro styles are no longer trending; SUVs are.

Scott Keogh, president and CEO of Volkswagen Group of America, said in a statement, “It’s impossible to imagine where Volkswagen would be without the Beetle. 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.”

1963 Volkswagen Beetle "Herbie the Love Bug"
1963 Volkswagen Beetle "Herbie the Love Bug" Mecum

The Puebla plant first started assembling Beetles in 1964, and it was allocated production for all global markets for the New Beetle, first introduced in 1998. The Puebla facility built more than 1.2 million units of the original New Beetle, and another half million second-gen Beetles since that model was introduced in 2011.

The final Beetle, at least until Volkswagen decides to revive the name and model again, will be finished in Denim Blue and go straight to Volkswagen de Mexico’s local museum in Puebla, where it will be on permanent display. Production ends this week. The last two U.S.-spec Beetles built—a pair of Kings Red cars with custom commemorative dashboards, keys, and quilted upholstery—will go to Volkswagen of America’s corporate collection.

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