Puebla, Mexico - The Volkswagen Beetle is now officially extinct, with the last third-generation unit having rolled off the assembly line in Mexico this week.
However, some might argue that the Beetle actually died when the original generation ceased production in that same country in 2003 after an extended production run, with most of the world having seen the last of the venerable ‘love bug’ in the 1970s already.
We say this because the two newer front-engined generations, based on the Golf 4 and 6 respectively, never really shared much other than a name and some retro styling cues with the original Beetle.
Expensive, in relative terms, the successors were never as popular as the original 'People's Car', which notched up sales of over 12.5 million, albeit over a much longer lifespan. The second generation of 1998, by comparison, only managed 1.2 million units, while the current model saw just 500 000 sales.
Will there ever be another Beetle?
At this stage it’s not looking likely that Volkswagen will ever produce another vehicle called the Beetle, although there were rumours circulating a few years back, of a possible electric successor. While there has been no official word on that front, a battery Beetle could easily form part of the upcoming ID family, which is also expected to spawn a retro successor to the Type 1 bus.
“It’s impossible to imagine where Volkswagen would be without the Beetle,” said VW America CEO Scott Keogh.
“From its first import in 1949 to today’s retro-inspired design, it has showcased our company’s ability to fit round pegs into square holes of the automotive industry. While its time has come, the role it has played in the evolution of our brand will be forever cherished.”
The Beetle was originally commissioned by Adolf Hilter in the early 1930s as a basic car that all Germans could afford, with Porsche being tasked with development, and the first cars went on sale in 1938. The initial production run was short-lived, however, due to the war effort. It was only in 1945 that production of a car for civilians resumed, with the first exports commencing later that decade.
And the rest, as they say, is history, the Beetle going on to become one of the world’s most popular cars ever, while attaining iconic status among the ‘flower power’ generation of the 1960s.