with Andrew Muzamhindo
It was in 1938 that the Volkswagen Type 1, more commonly referred to as the Beetle, or “Käfer” in its home market of Germany, first rolled off the line.
Volkswagen has announced that it will end production of its venerable Beetle in 2019 after three generations that included the original rear-engine, rear-drive air-cooled model and two successive iterations of the front-drive liquid-cooled New Beetle.
The Volkswagen Beetle is one of the most popular and instantly recognisable cars in the world. The VW Beetle has been a historic and revolutionary car in several ways. The Beetle can be credited to the creation of the German car giant Volkswagen which today has grown to become the second-largest car manufacturer after Toyota from Japan. The Beetle took German car manufacturing prowess from Germany to the world!
Eight decades on and the nameplate is still with us, though sadly that won’t be the case for long. VW revealed a Beetle Final Edition model recently and announced that the 2019 model year will be the last for the nameplate.
Sales are down significantly from even just a few years ago, so the news doesn’t come as a huge surprise.
In a statement, Volkswagen Group of America CEO Hinrich J Woebcken said the Beetle had to make way as the automaker moves to become a “full-line, family-focused automaker” while also focusing on an “electrification strategy.”
I have a feeling that a car that has been around for 81 years will somehow make its way back one day
But don’t expect an electric Beetle to surface, at least anytime soon. VW’s research and development head, Frank Welsch, in March said the new Microbus due in 2022 will serve as the automaker’s retro-inspired model for the time being. Additionally, VW will cover its bases with the recently announced T-Roc Cabriolet, which will serve as a Beetle Cabriolet replacement in some markets.
The 2019 Beetle Final Edition is available in coupe and convertible body styles and features exclusive equipment, including premium touches in the cabin.
There are also some links to the final version of the first-generation Beetle, which bowed out of production in 2003 and was known as the Última Edición.
For example, the exclusive beige and light blue exterior paint options available on the 2019 Beetle Final Edition matches the colours available on the 2003 Beetle Última Edición.
All 2019 Beetles are powered a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4 delivering 174 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque, and the sole transmission is a six-speed automatic.
“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,” said Hinrich J Woebcken, President and CEO, Volkswagen Group of America. “As we move to being a full-line, family-focused automaker in the world and ramp up our electrification strategy with the MEB platform, there are no immediate plans to replace it. But as we have seen with the ID Buzz — which is the modern and practical interpretation of the legendary Bus — I would also say, ‘Never say never.’ We’re excited to kick off a year of celebrating one of the true icons of the automotive world, with a series of events that will culminate in the end of production in Puebla in July 2019.”
The 2019 VW Beetle Final Edition will be offered in coupe and convertible body styles and SE and SEL trim levels. The cars will come in two special colors, Safara Uni, a hue patterned after Harvest Moon Beige used on the New Beetle, and Stonewashed Blue, which is derived from the 1970 Jeans Beetle and the 2016 Beetle Denim. Also available will be white, deep black pearl and platinum gray.
Taking their inspiration from the 2003 Última Edición models offered when the original Beetle went out of production in Mexico, Final Edition models feature standard chrome treatments, body-color side mirrors and a sunroof on coupes. The rear Turbo badge has been supplanted by a Beetle badge on the Final Edition.
SE models will be equipped with 17-inch wheels sporting a 15-spoke design, while the SEL has 18-inch rims in white aluminum-alloy designed to mimic the body-color steel wheels and chrome hubcaps of the whitewall shod Última Edición.
The 2019 VW Beetle is powered by a 2.0 litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine rated at 174 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission is standard. SE models come with a blind spot monitor and rear traffic alert, while SEL versions have front and rear park distance control.