The Volkswagen Beetle, a German car closely associated with Mexican culture, is facing the end of the assembly line.
The German auto maker said it would stop building the compact next year at a factory in Mexico, the last plant in the world to make the car.
The company’s American unit announced Thursday that it would end global production of the third-generation bulbous bug in July 2019 after offering two special editions.
The compact Beetle was introduced in Germany in 1938 during the Nazi era and came to the U.S. 11 years later, where it became a hippie symbol. U.S. sales stopped in 1979. The last of the original bugs was produced in Puebla, Mexico, in 2003.
The Volkswagen Beetle was introduced to Mexico in 1954. At the time, Mexican drivers mainly had large American models to choose from. Then, an exhibition at the Ciudad Universitaria in Mexico City introduced a model Beetle with an oval window. The press dubbed it the “People’s Car.” They caught on immediately.
By 1967, VW began producing Beetles and vans in Mexico after building a plant in Puebla. By then, the brand was ubiquitous throughout the country.
“In Yucatán, it’s not a matter of if VW has been a part of your life, but how,” writes Amanda Strickland in Yucatán Today. “Throughout the state, dozens of VW car clubs meet each week to share stories, contacts, parts and tips about the tedious restoration and maintenance processes.”
But last year, VW sold only 15,166 units, according to Autodata Corp.
The special editions, which come in coupe and convertible body styles, get unique beige and blue colors in addition to the normal hues. They also get standard extra chrome, new wheels and three-color ambient lighting inside.
Volkswagen did not rule out a future revival.
“I would say never say never,” VW of America CEO Hinrich Woebcken said in a statement.
The company plans to roll out an electric version of the old Bus, to be called the I.D. Buzz, in 2022.
Sources: Associated Press, Wikipedia