The Beetle Is Gone, Long Live The Bus

Volkswagen has just announced at the Geneva International Autos Show that it is killing the Beetle line. Frank Welsch, Volkswagen’s head of Research and Development told Autocar UK that “two or three generations is enough now..” and that the car was “made with history in mind but you can’t do it five times and have a new new new Beetle”. Welsch said the VW Beetle will not be replaced and will go out of production after its current production. 

The Beetle will no longer be made, again, according to VW. (photo courtesy of VW Beetle Club PH)

The Beetle is the most iconic of all Volkswagen brands and has been in production for over 90 years, since 1937. It was first “killed” in the 80’s but eventually revived in 1997 as the “new Beetle” and then reintroduced as a new model in 2011. Although the Beetle continues to be the only car design that refuses to follow current styles, it is so iconic that a huge cult following remains.

The 2016 VW Beetle, and the final iteration of the iconic German people carrier. (photo courtesy of Volkswagen)

What Volkswagen will do is to beef up the bus, what used to be called the Kombi, and use it as their legacy model even as the German automobile company shifts direction to SUV’s and electric cars. Their ID Buzz electric concept, one that has been seeing a lot of attention lately, is what will replace the Beetle as their retro-inspired model in the VW range.

The ID Buzz concept will be the heritage model of Volkswagen replacing the Beetle. photo courtesy of Volkswagen)

“With MEB [the VW Group’s electric car platform], you can do a bus and be an authentic vehicle with the original shape, and steering wheel mounted like the original. You can’t do that with an engine in the front. The shape you see on the concept is realistic,” said Welsch.

According to Volkswagen, the role of a ‘heritage’ model in the future for VW would instead be served by VW’s recreation of the Microbus rather than a Beetle, with a production version of the ID Buzz due around 2021/22 based on the VW Group’s new electric platform.

But, if you are a Beetle hardliner, don’t fret. You can still get one final one for yourself until supplies last. That is if the bug will die. Because we all know, bugs don’t die easy.

And if you want a quick course in the history of the Volkswagen Beetle check out “A Bug’s Life” on Car and Driver.

This is the Beetle under production in 1945. (photo courtesy of Alexander Stoklosa of Volkswagen)

The author is a certified motorhead and has been a journalist for the past 30 years. He will be a journalist all his life. He thinks he is famous and his mother agrees. His father has another opinion on that matter.
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