calls it stop for his iconic Beetle, with which he ended an 80-year worldwide run for a car that introduced many Americans to the German brand in the 1960s.
The German car manufacturer said that next year he would stop building the compact at a factory in Mexico, the last factory in the world to make the car.
The latest generation of the Beetle debuted in 2011, but the roots go back to 1938 as VW's first vehicle. It is one of the longest-lived and best-selling vehicles of all time, with 22.7 million sold worldwide.
The production of the original Beetle ended in 2003, but a more modern version of the car that was larger and more comfortable for the public, debuted in 1997. The newer model was produced in Puebla, Mexico, since 1999.
For many Americans, the Beetle is a typical "hippie car" of the baby boom generation, whose success paved the way for an influx of affordable foreign models in the 70s and 80s.
The decision of VW marks the second time that the car disappears from American showrooms. The American sale of the Beetle stopped in 1979 and was resumed with the newer version of the car in 1998. The renewed Beetle, which had a dashboardvaas and a front-mounted engine, was replaced in 2011 by a more muscular version. But neither redesign caught like the original with its baby boomer fans or younger generations of car buyers.
The VW Beetle is long in photo 's
After the transformation of a work project of the Third Reich into an icon of a counterculture, the Beetle will no longer be produced next year. Here is a glimpse of his 80-year history.
The 2019 Volkswagen Beetle, inspired by its predecessors, will be one of the last of its kind.
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"The [original] Beetle was a legend, "said David Kiley, author of the book" Getting The Bugs Out: The Rise Fall and Comeback of Volkswagen in America. "" But the lukewarm reaction to this latest Beetle is proof that even baby boomers have left, "he said.
Although the US is today the largest market of the vehicle, VW sold only 15,000 beetles in the country last year. That is less than 5% of the 339,700 cars that the company sold in the US in 2017.
According to company officials, the movement comes because VW focuses on other models and the electric car set-up, but left the door open for a return of the best-known name tag. "There are no immediate plans to replace it," said Hinrich J. Woebcken, the head of VW's US operations.
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The Beetle joins a growing number of models with small cars & sedans retired in the US, amid a shift in consumer preference to crossovers, SUVs and pick-up trucks. Those larger, more versatile vehicles now constitute two-thirds of US sales and tend to generate higher profit margins. Other car brands, such as Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV and
, have killed or plan to abandon several slow-selling car models in recent years.
The step to kill the Beetle is because President Donald Trump has criticized imports from Germany and after a new trade agreement with Mexico in the US, experts who say they can raise the costs for some Mexican small cars. s sent to the US
A US spokesman for VW said the decision to stop production was not related to changes in US trade policy. To make up for the loss of the Beetle, VW's plant in Puebla will switch to the production of other models, he said.
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The original Beetle became a symbol of the youth-led counterculture and peace movement of the sixties, despite its roots as a vehicle ordered by Adolf Hitler in the 1930s as a cheap car for the German mass.
The annual sales in the US of the model peaked at 423,008 cars during the heyday of its popularity in 1968, the same year that a Beetle named Herbie was on display in the Disney movie "The Love Bug".
Backed by its success with the Beetle, VW became the first foreign brand to open a factory in the US in 1978. That factory in New Stanton, Pennsylvania, was closed amidst debilitating sales in 1987. Several decades later, VW opened a new American factory in Chattanooga, Tennessee, which now produces the Passat sedans and the Atlas SUV.
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Write to Chester Dawson on [email protected]