Volkswagen: Once This Beetle's Gone, It's Not Coming Back
After going from the people’s car to the hippie’s car and, finally, to the car of semi-urban professional couples with no kids, Volkswagen’s retro Beetle has entered the home stretch. Despite a movement within Volkswagen HQ to keep the iconic shape around for a new generation, the German automaker now claims there’s no future for the Beetle.
Yes, once the current model disappears, it won’t crawl back out of the grave as an electric car or any other such thing. Get your tie-dyed shirt ready for the funeral.
Speaking to Autocar at the Geneva Motor Show, Volkswagen R&D chief Frank Welsch said there’s no room in the brand’s future lineup for an electric, rear-drive Beetle. That space goes to the compact I.D. and its siblings, including the retro, Microbus-inspired I.D. Buzz. Clearly, there’s still room for latter-day hippies at VW, but Wolfsburg’s not letting them run the show.
The Beetle, which returned to Europe and North America at the tail end of the 20th century as the “New Beetle” (before becoming too old for the moniker), gained a new lease on life with its careful 2012 redesign. Still, as sales numbers fall, rumors abound about its discontinuation. No further details emerged from Geneva on that front, though Welsch did imply that the company is growing tired of the model.
Explaining that “two or three generations is enough now” for the Beetle, Welsch said the car was “made with history in mind but you can’t do it five times and have a new new new Beetle.”
The upcoming convertible version of the European-market T-Roc is capable of filling the space left by the Beetle Cabriolet, Welsch said. He added that after unveiling so many microbus-inspired concept vehicles, the brand’s MEB electric architecture means it can now make a production version with the right proportions.
“Better to have that than having five generations of a new Beetle,” he said. “We had all these Microbus concepts in the past but all were front-engined. The physicality of bringing it on MQB or PQ-something to life does not work.”
How long will the Beetle stay alive? Well, the T-Roc cabriolet goes into production in 2020, with the I.D. Buzz appearing by 2022. Something tells us it won’t last nearly long enough to share a showroom with its successor.
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