Volkswagen to stop producing Beetles in 2019

Volkswagen will halt the production of Beetles in 2019, marking the end of the road for one of the world’s most beloved cars.

The German company will introduce two special editions of the vehicle before it stops making the model altogether in July.

Volkswagen is sidelining the Beetle, renowned for its distinctive curved shape and round lights, to focus on producing electric cars and larger family vehicles.

The company has not ruled out bringing the Beetle back in future but says it has no plans at this time.

Hinrich Woebcken, chief executive of the Volkswagen Group of America, said in a statement: “As we move to being a full-line, family-focused automaker in the US and ramp up our electrification strategy… there are no immediate plans to replace it.

“But, I would also say, never say never.

“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.”

Volkswagen plans to offer the two final edition models in both coupe and convertible styles before production is stopped.

The cars will include nods to earlier versions and be priced at $23,045 (£17,577) and up.

Beetles became a global phenomenon after managing to shake off their Nazi roots.

The car, originally known simply as Volkswagen, was first developed by Ferdinand Porsche.

The move was supported by Adolf Hitler, who in 1937 formed the state-run Volkswagenwerk, or “The People’s Car Company”.

After the Second World War, the Allied countries who defeated Nazi Germany made Volkswagen a priority in an effort to revive the country’s auto industry.

The saloon cars made their US debut in the 1950s, but sales were weak, in part owing to their links to the Third Reich.

The advertising agency Doyle Dane Bernback rechristened the car the Beetle in 1959, and began touting its small size as an advantage to consumers, according to the History Channel.

They attained further popularity with the 1968 Disney movie The Love Bug, which told the story of a racing car called Herbie with a mind of its own.

Andy Warhol created prints featuring the Beetle, and the model was also the most prominent car in the background of The Beatles’ final album Abbey Road.

US sales ceased in 1979, but the vehicle continued to be produced in Mexico and Brazil, according to Car and Driver.

Volkswagen revived the “New Beetle” in the United States in 1997.

But sales of the car slipped 3.2% to 15,667 in 2017 in the United States, a fraction of the sales for the Jetta and Passat sedans.

At the Detroit Auto Show in January, the German automaker unveiled a revamped version of the Jetta and also touted the Atlas, a new mid-sized SUV.

Volkswagen continues to deal with fallout from the “dieselgate” scandal that broke in September 2015.

The company, having already paid out costly government settlements, is fighting billions of dollars in additional claims lodged by shareholders who saw their stock plummet in value.

It came after authorities cracked down on Volkswagen over the installation of so-called “defeat devices” into 11 million cars worldwide to fool regulatory emissions tests.

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