Here's the buzz
Volkswagen recently showed off some of its plans for the future during the 2018 Geneva International Motor Show. The current SUV lineup got some fresh changes with the all-new seven-seater Tiguan called the AllSpace, and a brand-new Touareg debuting in late March.
The star of the show space, however, was the company’s all-new electric platform for 2025, showcased in the I.D. family of cars.
One of the most remarkable, albeit disheartening news tidbits to come from the show floor, was a remark from Volkswagen research and development boss, Frank Welsch. In light of all the new models and plans that were presented, Welsch confirmed the end of the Beetle line, saying that the third-generation Beetle (2011 to present) would be the last of the Bugs.
The all-electric, retro-futuristic styled Microbus reincarnation, aka the I.D. Buzz, will carry the torch as its "emotional" model come 2022, with the I.D. Hatchback, I.D. Vizzion and I.D. Crozz positioned as its mass market, electric-powered offerings in 2025.
The unloved Bug
Much like some real beetles in the wild, Volkswagen can be seen as undergoing a metamorphosis, molting and shedding off its old skin to enter a new era in both design and strategy. It's obvious the company is in a process of reconfiguration, and is gearing up to better meet global consumer demands.
The growing uproar for SUVs and for better, cleaner powertrain options means the company's resources have to be shuffled around, and slow-moving products will have to give way to new and more exciting ideas. Of course, the Dieselgate scandal from a few years ago didn't help the company’s position, and this means Volkswagen will have to bring something new to the table to substantiate its commitment of offering sensible, forward-thinking cars.
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With the expensive measures put in place to mitigate the problems brought about by the scandal, Volkswagen badly needs to sell. And if they can't sell the Beetle, then it's only contributing to the company's problems. Never mind the fact that it's as iconic as the Volkswagen name itself, and practically the rock on which the company was founded. It's a numbers game now, and the numbers dictate that the Beetle exit stage left.
A big drop in global sales for the current Beetle has shown that people just aren't as interested in the car, its roots, or even its rationale. Sales figures in the US from stat site carsalesbase.com stand at 15,166 units for 2017--a paltry looking figure compared to its 2013 peak of 43,134 units.
And the story gets more dismal when compared to sales of the previous generation Beetle, which peaked at 83,434 units in 1999, a year after its introduction, and which bowed out at 16,537 units by the time the current one was introduced. Sales figures in Europe tell of a similar sad fate for the car. Shocking when directly compared to the original Beetle's sales figures in the '60s, numbering in the hundreds of thousands annually.