The future of Volkswagen's most iconic model seems to be 100% up in the air.
Despite being one of the most iconic cars ever built and a best-seller worldwide the Volkswagen Beetle appears to be on its last legs. Buyers want crossovers, not budget-friendly two-doors with limited cabin space. We heard last spring that the Bug would be killed off at the end of 2018 to make room for more SUVs. However, a new interview from Automobile is suggesting that the Beetle could survive, provided it’s electrified. The automaker has said that electrification is its future, with a goal of 30 electrified models on sale by 2025.
VW’s head of design, Klaus Bischoff, told the outlet during the Detroit Auto Show that, “There have been no decisions so far, but it’s possible the Bug’s future is electric.” It’s possible Bischoff was hinting at a hybrid Beetle. That would be the conservative route, though. We’d much prefer an all-electric Beetle. Why? Because, the burgeoning EV scene has space for an oddball and cutesy electric car a la the Bug. None of the current crop of EVs on sale can be described as fun, at least from a design standpoint. An all-electric Beetle with a decent range and fresh, quirky design could be a hit with millennials. The architecture on which such a car would be built is already being developed.
Volkswagen’s MEB platform will provide a wide range of, well, range. Cars built on it will be able to travel a minimum of 250 miles per charge, although that can be expanded (via a bigger battery) to up to 373 miles. An all-electric Beetle with a 250-mile range and ultra-futuristic interior doesn’t sound like such a terrible proposition. It would be a breath of fresh air from the four-door sedans and SUVs that the industry continues to roll out. The first model built on the MEB platform will debut in 2020 which means the Bug’s fate and electric future may not be known for a few more years. Honestly, it's hard to make a case for the car's continued existence unless it gets electrified. Sales are in the tubes and automakers don't exactly build cars for sentimental reasons.
The market swing towards SUVs and trucks means that the Beetle will need to learn some new tricks in order to get the green light for a next generation, not to mention stay relevant. Said trick could simply be swapping a gas engine for a lithium-ion battery pack. Note: Pictured here is the all-electric Beetle concept, the E-Bugster, from way back in 2012.