Ding Dong, The Bug Is Dead (for now)

Spectre

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https://www.caranddriver.com/news/a28339984/end-of-volkswagen-beetle-production/

The Very Last Volkswagen Beetle Rolls off the Production Line

Progress kills Bugs dead: Production of the Beetle has really, truly finally ended with a Denim Blue model built in Mexico.

This is finally the end of the road for the long-serving Volkswagen Beetle as the very last third-generation model rolled off the production line in Mexico today, having sold more than 1.7 million copies worldwide since its debut in 1998.
But, as everyone knows, the Beetle dates back many decades earlier to a less than auspicious debut as the brainchild of Adolf Hitler, who wished for a "people's car" that could have the same societal influence on Germany that Henry Ford's Model T did in the States. The original Beetle, a.k.a. Type 1, survived long past its logical expiration date. Cheap, efficient, instantly recognizable, and yet somehow enigmatic, the original air-cooled Beetle transcended its initial purpose, and, like the classic Willys Jeep, the Fender Stratocaster, and the Converse Chuck Taylor sneaker, it evolved into a cultural icon despite, or possibly because of, its inherent drawbacks. It saw a couple of significant updates and numerous running changes along its 65-year run, but production of the Type 1 lasted until 2003, with the last model rolling off the line at the same Mexico plant where the third-gen modern Beetle ended its run today.

Although the air-cooled Beetle disappeared from the U.S. market in the late 1970s for a multitude of reasons, it seemed at the time that a new Beetle was inevitable; we just didn't think it would take until 1998 to get one. After several years of rumors and teasers, the New Beetle arrived just as an entire generation of buyers of growing affluence realized they were suffering from a debilitating case of nostalgia. Anxious to identify with the cultural touchstones of the past, they flocked to the New Beetle, which provided all the warm and fuzzy memories without triggering the nightmares inherent of its ancestor, a vehicle powered by a 40-hp 1.2-liter engine that could barely maintain 60 mph on an incline.

When it came, the New Beetle was dramatically improved in nearly every metric: ride; comfort; noise, vibration, and harshness; and reliability—well, for Volkswagen of the late '90s, anyhow—and modern conveniences such as air conditioning and an automatic transmission. But those who stuck around long enough to get past the cute factor discovered that for the period, the New Beetle was a pretty darn good car, too. Did anyone care that the water-cooled engine was in the front? Maybe, but progress has a cost, and if the car could be made safer and more practical to produce, only the most hard-core devotes seemed disappointed.
Not long after its launch, Volkswagen began utilizing the Beetle as a palette for experimentation, creating convertibles and a turbocharged version, numerous special editions including a Barbie Beetle, a Denim Edition, and the Beetle Dune, among many other special editions and one-off concepts. The last major redesign came with the 2012 model year, when VW attempted to add an air of masculinity to the design and dropped the "New" from its name, simply calling it the "Beetle." This also marks the point where the entire production of all third-gen Beetles was shifted to the Puebla facility, although the cars were shipped to 91 markets worldwide.
Although we're sad to see the Beetle—new, old, or otherwise—fade off into the golden-hued sunset, Volkswagen isn't finished mining its past for future product. Just two years ago Volkswagen confirmed the I.D. Buzz for production, signaling the next wave of forward-facing vehicles with a foot in the past. A modern interpretation of the classic Microbus, the Volkswagen I.D. Buzz electric vehicle is a high-tech tour de force, and it's scheduled to hit showrooms in 2022.
The good news: They FINALLY killed off the "MOAR AGGRESSIVE" New New Beetle. Good riddance.
The bad news: They're going to replace it with a new interpretation of the Hippie Bus. BOOOOOOOO.
 

prizrak

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Meh it’s gonna be an electric toy thing for nostalgic boomers, I doubt it’s something we are likely to see much
 

Spectre

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Meh it’s gonna be an electric toy thing for nostalgic boomers, I doubt it’s something we are likely to see much
One reason they had to discontinue the Beetle is because the Boomers who were going to buy it were aging out of the buying pool/couldn't drive any more. So, they're going to try to market to the same diminishing group??? Whatever genius came up with that idea needs to be fired.
 

prizrak

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One reason they had to discontinue the Beetle is because the Boomers who were going to buy it were aging out of the buying pool/couldn't drive any more. So, they're going to try to market to the same diminishing group??? Whatever genius came up with that idea needs to be fired.
It’s VW they are idiots
 

argatoga

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The problem with the Beetle and other retro cars of its ilk, is that you can't do much with styling. If Mary's new fancy Beetle looks like Gertha's 10 year old clunker next door, what's the point?

That and as Spectre said, those who have a historic emotional attachment to the thing are either withered hippies or skin heads, neither of which are a market worth investing in.
 

Spectre

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The problem with the Beetle and other retro cars of its ilk, is that you can't do much with styling. If Mary's new fancy Beetle looks like Gertha's 10 year old clunker next door, what's the point?
I would take that one step further - the Beetle's problem was that its entire selling point was RETRO RETRO RETRO RETRO. It didn't have a compelling reason to buy it other than RETRO. If you wanted basically the same car with better performance and/or no retro, the GTI was sitting right there on the floor next to it - and VW would have been complete idiots if they had made the Beetle a better performer than a GTI, so they were already screwed right there.

You can sell a retro car quite successfully - if you emphasize the 'car' part over the retro. The Miata is the perfect example of this; the first gen was certainly very retro as it looked very much like a number of Little British Cars that had been popular decades previously - but retro wasn't the only thing it offered. It offered modern sports car handling prowess and driving fun in a retro shell; in fact, they sold it as a modern sports car that just happened to look retro - more or less. The Beetle offered a Golf (a commuter box to start with) with worse performance in a retro shell that sacrificed practicality, efficiency and pretty much everything else you'd buy a modern commuter car for on the altar of retro.

Or put another way: If you wanted a handling specialist at a good price that could double as a commuter but didn't care one whit for retro, you bought a Miata. If you wanted a German commuter box but didn't care about retro... you didn't buy a Beetle. You bought a Golf.
 

prizrak

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You can sell a retro car quite successfully
Just look at the s197 ;)

I basically agree with Spectre, you can do retro styling and make it look modern but you have to give the car something else that would make it worth buying.

EDIT: Also if you are going to retro anything it should be something that already looked good and you can easily modernize the lines a bit while keeping the recognizable styling cues. Beetle was never anything but a cheap beater, and wasn’t particularly good looking.
 
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bone

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i never thought about the NA MX5 as being retro
i think it looked pretty modern in 1989...
 

gaasc

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It was a bit retro, just not about its own brand. It was very much trying to be a Lotus Elan



Personally I think it succeeded at it a lot more than the actual 90s Lotus Elan.
 

katwalk

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I would take that one step further - the Beetle's problem was that its entire selling point was RETRO RETRO RETRO RETRO. It didn't have a compelling reason to buy it other than RETRO. If you wanted basically the same car with better performance and/or no retro, the GTI was sitting right there on the floor next to it - and VW would have been complete idiots if they had made the Beetle a better performer than a GTI, so they were already screwed right there.

You can sell a retro car quite successfully - if you emphasize the 'car' part over the retro. The Miata is the perfect example of this; the first gen was certainly very retro as it looked very much like a number of Little British Cars that had been popular decades previously - but retro wasn't the only thing it offered. It offered modern sports car handling prowess and driving fun in a retro shell; in fact, they sold it as a modern sports car that just happened to look retro - more or less. The Beetle offered a Golf (a commuter box to start with) with worse performance in a retro shell that sacrificed practicality, efficiency and pretty much everything else you'd buy a modern commuter car for on the altar of retro.

Or put another way: If you wanted a handling specialist at a good price that could double as a commuter but didn't care one whit for retro, you bought a Miata. If you wanted a German commuter box but didn't care about retro... you didn't buy a Beetle. You bought a Golf.
Well I mean. The problem is more they didn't ever bother to make the beetle fast. Like an amusing trend I notice? People who buy abarth 500s seem to consistently overlap with GTI/beetle owners specifically. If VW offered a GTI version of beetles I probably would not own the fiat.

I'm obviously incredibly bias, but I think the point is less retro by itself as much as being less generic, the average person cannot tell small hatchbacks and sedans apart but beetles are so iconic they didn't bother with anything but the VW logo on it. Btt it's also a double edged sword. People love beetles, but no one wants to own one for the same reason silver/black/white are the most common car colors (though it baffles me why people focus so much on resale value, even the most boring sensible cars become practically worthless)

Also I think is less "only boomers want them" then "only boomers can afford them". Hell, most millennials probably can't even drive going off what I've seen.

I really wish they had tried harder with bugs. I wish they had tried harder to go with simple and cheap like the originals if they weren't going to do shit like actually sporty ones.
 

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Well I mean. The problem is more they didn't ever bother to make the beetle fast. Like an amusing trend I notice? People who buy abarth 500s seem to consistently overlap with GTI/beetle owners specifically. If VW offered a GTI version of beetles I probably would not own the fiat.

I'm obviously incredibly bias, but I think the point is less retro by itself as much as being less generic, the average person cannot tell small hatchbacks and sedans apart but beetles are so iconic they didn't bother with anything but the VW logo on it. Btt it's also a double edged sword. People love beetles, but no one wants to own one for the same reason silver/black/white are the most common car colors (though it baffles me why people focus so much on resale value, even the most boring sensible cars become practically worthless)

Also I think is less "only boomers want them" then "only boomers can afford them". Hell, most millennials probably can't even drive going off what I've seen.

I really wish they had tried harder with bugs. I wish they had tried harder to go with simple and cheap like the originals if they weren't going to do shit like actually sporty ones.
They did make sporty/'fast' New Beetles and New New Beetles - but they were always a notch below or at best roughly equal to the GTI while often costing more. There were the Turbo and Turbo S models, the R-Lines, etc. (I'm not counting the RSi.)

And no, Boomers were the majority demographics, essentially the only ones that wanted them in any numbers. Gen Xers were a distinct minority and they bailed as the model got older - then didn't come back for the New New Beetle. I vaguely recall the median buyer during the first five years of the New Beetle being listed as "49-54 year old female."
 
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katwalk

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They did make sporty/'fast' New Beetles and New New Beetles - but they were always a notch below or at best roughly equal to the GTI while often costing more. There were the Turbo and Turbo S models, the R-Lines, etc. (I'm not counting the RSi.)

And no, Boomers were the majority demographics, essentially the only ones that wanted them in any numbers. Gen Xers were a distinct minority and they bailed as the model got older - then didn't come back for the New New Beetle. I vaguely recall the median buyer during the first five years of the New Beetle being listed as "49-54 year old female."
I would honestly not call at least the recent ones (I have never driven a turbo s so I can't speak for it) "sporty" given you can't really distinguish it from any other beetle when you are driving it. Like this is the specific reason I have the abarth instead. The turbo bug honestly didn't feel any different then mine. It would have bad to be as good as a GTI to be worth it.

My point was that a lot of millennials CANNOT AFFORD cars period. So of course they aren't going to show up as a demographic worth aiming at. TBH cars in general, do not seem popular with young people anymore and it makes me sad.
 

Spectre

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I would honestly not call at least the recent ones (I have never driven a turbo s so I can't speak for it) "sporty" given you can't really distinguish it from any other beetle when you are driving it. Like this is the specific reason I have the abarth instead. The turbo bug honestly didn't feel any different then mine. It would have bad to be as good as a GTI to be worth it.

My point was that a lot of millennials CANNOT AFFORD cars period. So of course they aren't going to show up as a demographic worth aiming at. TBH cars in general, do not seem popular with young people anymore and it makes me sad.
And that's fine, but you're forgetting that there are Gen Xers out there, with money, that like cars, that VW was hoping would take over from the Boomers and buy the Beetles. They didn't. The only selling point of the Beetle was Retro and a specific, targeted form of retro with a very limited audience.
 

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Retro is not necessarily bad. That seems to be where they stopped with their efforts though.
 

Spectre

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Retro is not necessarily bad. That seems to be where they stopped with their efforts though.
Pretty much it. It was a Golf in a 1960s hippie's potato sack dress and that's pretty much all it was. There wasn't any other reason to buy it over the Golf.
 

rickhamilton620

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pours one out for it In another life where I didn't need a huge trunk, the Beetle would be tempting. But it's time, people have moved on from it.
 

katwalk

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pours one out for it In another life where I didn't need a huge trunk, the Beetle would be tempting. But it's time, people have moved on from it.
Tbh when I was driving the loner renagade around I thought to myself first "I'd rather have this over the outback" and then immediately after "I could probably also have the subtitle of 'fetish of terrible cars'". Just the "fun but a junk heap" kind instead of boring 😂
 

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Like the TT and some other funky cars from the era, I view the New Beetle and the The The Beetle as sort of a concept car made it to life, a bit of fun crafted from basic bits and sacrificing a lot of the packaging. By now most New Beetles have gotten used up, but I do think they have a realistic chance of becoming future classics for people who like late rad era stuff. As Golf alternatives, they suck, but as very meta retro car they can live on. None of that will obviously benefit VW other than in PR sense or possibly selling some parts, but hey.
 

katwalk

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ahem https://forums.finalgear.com/threads/my-hot-latino-16-beetle-cabrio.62734/


More on topic, Beetle people are the most friendly car people I've ever met - including FG, on average.
See the thing is wrt the turbo bug is as crazy as it sounds... it didn't feel any faster then mine? Like it was obviously. It effortly accelerated where mine struggles. But it didn't feel as zippy as I would expect. Mine is slow to accelerate but once you get up to speed it's about as much fun.

A hilarious thing I have noticed is when i look on the abarth subreddit, I'll see people mention their former/replacement/second cars... it's a volkswagen like 75% of the time. Usually a bug or GTI. "The abarth has the same power to weight ratio as my R32 golf did", "here's my second car, it's a beetle". Apparently if you want something between a GTI and a beetle you buy an abarth and like... yeah if I parked a GTI next to my abarth and put my bug on the other side it would look like they had a baby.

Something that makes me sad is I think if volkswagen had a beetle that was closer to the abarth, it might have been more popular then either car was on their own and maybe I wouldn't have TWO completely discontinued cars.

And yeah wrt the beetle. There is nothing quite like owning one and if you so it's hard to imagine the idea of people not loving them. Because you literally get it yelled at you when you go by. "I used to own a beetle I still miss it" had been said to me more times then I can count and it echoing in my head made the "do i trade it in for an upgrade" question a hell of a lot easier.

Beetles make people happy and they want to tell you. It is a wonderful thing and I think if they put more effort in they could have refreshed them and kept them in demand.
 
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