Wolfsburg, Germany - Volkswagen has announced that it will stop producing the Beetle in July 2019, ending a model that looked backward to the 1960s counterculture as the automaker prepares for a leap toward a future of mass-market electric cars.
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 the Second World War. In the 1960s, the Beetle was a small-is-beautiful icon of the postwar baby boom generation. Volkswagen discontinued procution of the Beetle in germany in 1978, but continued production in South Africa, Brazil and Mexico; the last Type 1 Beetles were built in Mexico in 2003.
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 modernize 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.
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 sales have suffered along with most other small cars. Volkswagen has sold about 500 000 Beetles globally since 1998, the company said.