The Volkswagen Beetle Will Be Missed by People Who Weren't Planning on Buying One

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

Will there be a Green Mile edition?

The slow-selling Volkswagen Beetle is living on borrowed time, if a tweet by industry insider Autoline can be believed, but aside from nostalgia, why should the world mourn a vehicle that few buyers want?

In the wake of the disruptive and wildly expensive diesel emissions scandal, Volkswagen needs sales in a big way, and they’re not getting them from the Beetle. Seven months out from the diesel revelations, Volkswagen’s sales are still dropping, and the Beetle’s popularity with buyers has all the power of, well, an original Beetle engine.

Once popular with the types of people who would explain how the world is supposed to work on Sesame Street, the Beetle saw its production peak in the early 1970s. Like Linda Lovelace’s career, it was all downhill from there.

The diminutive Bug represented an automotive ideal born of unhappier times, but that ideal no longer resonates.

At 22,667 units, last year’s U.S. Beetle sales were half of what they were when the previous New Beetle still had some whimsical clout in 2003. In fact, they were almost half of 2013 sales.

In Australia, where life’s a beach every damn day, the Beetle was put down like an injured wallaby after selling just 240 units last year.

No one wants to see a storied nameplate fade into the history books, but the “new” Beetle is cursed with a retro design that shuns design updates, and buyers can’t be blamed for wanting something that looks new and fresh.

So, if the model does get killed off at the end of 2018, buyers will shed a tear for the cute car their elementary school teacher once drove, right before actually considering putting money down on the compact crossovers and three-row SUV that will actually save the company.

[Image: © 2015 Alex L. Dykes/ The Truth About Cars]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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  • Laserwizard Laserwizard on Apr 18, 2016

    Chick cars have no value or sales longevity - by the time a Chick makes a car a Chick car, the other Chicks change their mind and move onto something that they can make a Chic car. The only exceptions are the Chicks who like each other very much and were flannel and use diesel fuel as perfume. Subarus and Toyoduh 4x4's are historically Chick loving modes of transportation seemingly for centuries now. Chicks that still have their dangles seem to like Tahoes. Chlamydia Kardashian Jenner looks almost fab in hers. That ended when the almost Chick killed a real Chick in a Lexus. I'm not sure if Chlamydia has chosen a broom or some other model of transportation since she broke a nail nailing a car.

  • Philadlj Philadlj on Apr 18, 2016

    Forget what the New Beetle/New New Beetle AKA Beetle has been these last 18 years. If VW wants to bother selling the model again, they need to start back at the beginning: cheap, utilitarian transportation, only tweaked for 21st Century sensibilities and expectations. The New New New Beetle (AKA New New Beetle) should borrow heavily from the perennial B-segment leader - the Nissan Versa - and offer what the first Type 1 did not: loads of interior space, particularly in the back. The Versa has always won this segment because it's roomier than the competition. People want the most room for their buck. They have spoken. After that, well, we see from both generations of the Versa sedan that you end up with a pretty frumpy vehicle. That doesn't really matter to the people buying it (because they have the space they want at the price they're willing to pay) but it also offers an opportunity to maintain the general Beetle form, i.e. big round greenhouse and flared fenders. I don't really care if it's RR or FF layout. What matters is Price, Room, and Safety. Check those boxes, and make it as fuel efficient as possible and you have a decent shot at competing in a segment VW has abandoned for decades.

  • EBFlex Ford finally making a good decision although they should shut down their EV operations and investment all together. Why lose that money too?
  • Mike Lol. This is the king of suvs. And its made by GM.Why is everyone trashing it?Top of its its class for a quarter century.
  • Frank Drove past there last week, plant has a huge poster of a bronco on the outside. I was thinking "Is that where they build the new broncos?" I know they use to make the Edge and that other mundane SUV there but I believe both have been canned.
  • CanadaCraig Toyota saw this coming. So good for them for being courageous enough to say, "Wait a minute. Let's not rush into anything."
  • Rna65689660 As the previous owner of a Triumph, and current owner of a MINI, I say, LOL!
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