Iconic Volkswagen Beetle to be killed off

Sep 14, 2018, 16:58 PM IST
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Volkswagen said on Thursday it would stop producing its Beetle compact car in 2019, ending a model that looked backward to the 1960s counterculture as the automaker prepares for a leap towards a future of mass-market electric cars, according to Reuters.

 

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The original VW Beetle, developed in the 1930s, made a journey from a product identified with Adolf Hitler to a symbol of Germany`s rebirth as a democratic, industrial powerhouse after World War Two. 

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In the 1960s, the Beetle was a small-is-beautiful icon of the postwar baby boom generation. Volkswagen discontinued U.S. sales of the "bug" in 1979, but continued production for Mexico and Latin America. 

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In the mid-1990s, at a time when Volkswagen was struggling to rekindle sales in the United States, then-Chief Executive Ferdinand Piech pushed to revive and modernise the distinctive Beetle design pioneered by his grandfather, Ferdinand Porsche. The result was a crescent-shaped car called the "New Beetle," launched in 1998, which offered playful touches such as a built-in flower vase. 

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The New Beetle was a hit during its early years, with sales of more than 80,000 in the United States in 1999, but recently the car`s U.S. sales have suffered along with most other small cars. Overall, VW has sold about 500,000 Beetles globally since 1998, the company said. 

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Volkswagen sold a total of 11,151 Beetles in the United States through the first eight months of 2018, down 2.2 percent from the same period a year earlier. Beetle is built for North America and other markets at a factory in Mexico. 

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The end of the Beetle comes at a turning point for Volkswagen. The German automaker`s last three years have been rocked by the fallout from a scandal caused by its admitted cheating on diesel emissions tests. 

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There are no plans to replace the Beetle. However, an official statement did not rule that out someday. The company said two special Beetle models will join the final lineup - Final Edition SE and Final Edition SEL - in the United States and would offer driver-assistance technology.

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