The Volkswagen Beetle is an icon, but its time has come to an end (at least for the immediate future). The German brand just announced that it will stop producing it after the 2018 model year. It had a 20-year run with the new generations, but it's singing its swan song after meager sales and a different future planned for VW.
VW brought back the Beetle as the New Beetle in 1998 in the spirit of playfulness and as an homage to the super-successful Beetle. But after the initial hype, that car wasn't able to maintain the sales numbers Wolfsburg wanted, and the model was canned in 2011 in favor of a fresher, more aggressive design based on the 2005 Ragster Concept (below).
The new cars were less kitschy (no flower bud vase mounted in the dash), and though it kept the same rounded shape, the overall look was more sporty with a flatter roof, along with a flatter roofline and creased fenders. A coupe and convertible were sold side-by-side, and special editions like the Dune and the Beetle Classic were released to tantalize buyers who wanted something even more nostalgia. But it wasn't enough to keep buyers interested. VW briefly considered creating an electric Beetle based on the new MQB platform, but that idea was nixed in conjunction with the development of new vehicles on which VW plans on building its future.
The Volkswagen head of R&D stated that the Beetle is done. “Two or three generations is enough now," he informed Autocar. There will be no revised Beetle based on VW's new MQB platform, and any plans to create an electric Beetle have been shelved. What VW plans to do is create a new generation of fresh automobiles like the T-Roc crossover (below). It speaks to the popularity of the segment, as well.
The T-Roc will sell in 2019 as a 2020 model, and it should be well-placed in the VW lineup that's already seen great success with the new Atlas and the redesigned Tiguan. VW will use its new I.D. Buzz electric minivan as its nostalgic vehicle infused with future tech. The Buzz should come in 2021 or 2022.
Though we acknowledge the Beetle's place in automotive history, it no longer serves the VW bottom line well, and it's time to move on. It probably lasted about five years too long, but at least VW recognizes the time to bring things to an end.