VW will end Beetle output in 2019
Volkswagen will end output of the iconic Beetle next year, closing another chapter for one of the auto industry's most storied nameplates.
Production of the modern, third-generation Beetle will end at a plant in Puebla, Mexico, in July 2019, Volkswagen of America said Thursday.
VW has been pulling the Beetle from global markets as part of a broader effort to streamline its bloated product lineup. CEO Herbert Diess has been a driving force behind the slimmed down product portfolio since he took over the VW brand in 2015. Demand for the Beetle and VW hatchbacks such as the Golf also has come under pressure as consumers increasingly migrate to crossovers and SUVs.
Diess has pondered reviving the Beetle as a full-electric car to tap the model's cachet in popular culture. The company is also touting the upcoming I.D. Neo hatchback planned in 2020 as the new Beetle for the EV age.
The Beetle, with roots dating back to 1938 in Germany, was revived and updated in 1998 with U.S. sales of the modern Beetle peaking at 83,434 in 1999. Overall, VW has sold about 500,000 Beetles globally since 1998, the company said. The car was created by Ferdinand Porsche and sparked a raft of imitators over time.
Volkswagen said two special Beetle models will be offered during the last model year -- Final Edition SE and Final Edition SEL.
Volkswagen Group of America CEO Hinrich Woebcken, in a statement, said there are "no immediate plans to replace it" as the automaker focuses on becoming "a full-line, family-focused automaker in the U.S." and ramps up electrification efforts.
"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," Woebcken said.
U.S. sales of the Beetle have dropped 2.2 percent this year in a market that is increasingly shifting from cars to light trucks. European sales fell 37 percent to 8,377 in the first half, according to market researchers JATO Dynamics.
Bloomberg and Reuters contributed to this report.