Volkswagen is discontinuing the iconic Beetle after 80 years on the market

Matthew DeBord/BIVolkswagen Beetle.
  • Volkswagen announced it will stop worldwide production of the iconic Beetle by summer 2019. The move comes as the auto market continues its march toward SUVs and crossover vehicles.
  • The company sold roughly 15,000 Beetles in the US in 2017, a dramatic fall from the more than 420,000 units sold at the peak of its popularity in the late 1960s.
  • Volkswagen sold its most Beetles in the US in 1968, when it appeared as a race car named “Herbie” in the Disney movie, “The Love Bug.”

Volkswagen will stop making its iconic Beetle after nearly seven decades on the market, the German automaker announced Thursday.

The first Beetles rolled off production lines in 1938. Their increasing popularity in the US in the 1960s prompted Volkswagen to build its first manufacturing plant in North America in order to meet the demand. That plant located in the state of Puebla, Mexico, is expected to make its last Beetle in July 2019.

The move comes as the market continues its shift toward SUVs and crossover vehicles.

“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 Volkswagen US CEO Hinrich J. Woebcken in a statement.

Over the years, the Beetle became something of a cultural icon. It’s perhaps most widely recognised for its role as a racing car named “Herbie” in the 1968 Disney film “The Love Bug.” Volkswagen sold about 423,000 Beetles in the US that year.

Volkswagen sold roughly 15,000 Beetles in US in 2017, a signal of its diminishing audience. Independent auto analyst John Wolkonowicz told the Los Angeles Times the current-generation Beetles mostly appealed to middle-aged women.

They “bought them, enjoyed them, and they’re on to something else. Younger people don’t know what the point is,” he said.

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