Volkswagen is halting production of the last version of its Beetle model this week at its plant in Puebla, Mexico. It’s the end of the road for a vehicle that has endured in many forms since its introduction in 1938. The Beetle was a symbol of Germany’s postwar economic renaissance and rising middle-class prosperity. It was also an early example of globalization, sold and recognized all over the world. The car remains an icon of automotive design, perhaps as recognizable as the Coca-Cola bottle.
The Beetle’s original design can be traced back to Austrian engineer Ferdinand Porsche, who was commissioned by Adolf Hitler’s to design a “people’s car” or ‘Volkswagen’ that would spread auto ownership the way the Ford Model T had in the U.S. At the end of Second World War, Volkswagen was re-launched as a civilian carmaker. By 1955, the one millionth Beetle – officially called the Type 1 – had rolled off the assembly line in what was now the town of Wolfsburg. The United States became Volkswagen’s most important foreign market, accounting for nearly 40 per cent of production in 1968. Production at Wolfsburg ended in 1978, but the Beetle wasn’t dead yet. Production went on in Mexico from 1967 until 2003 – longer than the car had been made in Germany.
The New Beetle – a completely new retro version build on a modified Golf platform – was introduced in 1998. The last of 5,961 Final Edition versions is headed for a museum after ceremonies in Puebla on July 10 to mark the end of production.
Image source: https://www.autotrader.ca/