Volkswagen will foot part of the Dieselgate bill by killing off its most iconic model.
Think of the most iconic Volkswagen in history and we’d bet the first car that comes to your mind is the Beetle. With over 21.5 million having been produced, the Beetle is the longest-running and best-selling single design in history, but now it’s legacy is being threatened by poor decision-making skills from within the company. As Autocar reports, the hard-top Beetle variant and the European market Scirocco that uses the same platform are the ones slated to get the axe due to Dieselgate.
Speaking at Volkswagen’s 2017 Annual Session, brand board member Arno Antlitz broke the news to the audience after being asked if the aged Beetle platform would soon be replaced. “The Beetle and Scirocco are representatives of an emotional and appealing class of vehicles, but it [VW product planning] is not always about continuing cars from one generation to the next,” said Antlitz. Unfortunately, though it’s the model with the richest brand history, the Beetle is also one of Volkswagen’s slowest-selling cars, with only 25,127 coupe and convertible units being sold in 2016. The Scirocco sells even worse than that, with buyers only snatching up 10,752 in 2016.
Given the extreme (but effective) cost-cutting measures the auto giant has had to undergo following the Dieselgate scandal, it only makes sense that the sluggish sellers are the first to go. This isn’t the first time we’ve heard that the only current source of Volkswagen’s root DNA would get beheaded, with two reports, one a year ago and another coming seven months later, claiming that the Beetle would soon see the graveyard. Thankfully for Beetle fans, the convertible sells quite a bit better than the hard-top and is also the only convertible currently in the automaker’s lineup. Not wanting to alienate convertible buyers or hurt the topless Beetle’s sales trickle, VW will keep that model alive for the foreseeable future.
While the loss of its most ancestral model may be sad to Volkswagen fans, the move is in line with the shift in identity the automaker wants to make. Its new identity will soon be defined by electric cars coming from the ID subbrand. Our bet? In this strange automotive era, don't be surprised to see the Beetle and the famous Volkswagen bus revived as all-electric models years down the line. There's no mention on how long Beetle fans have to say their last prayers and snag final models, but we wouldn't be surprised if there's no such thing as a 2018 hardtop Beetle.