Skip to main content

Mariachis a Mexican musicians play music during a ceremony marking the end of production of VW Beetle cars, at company's assembly plant in Puebla, Mexico.

IMELDA MEDINA/Reuters

Volkswagen rolled the last Beetle off the assembly line on Wednesday, the end of the road for a car that ran from Nazi Germany through hippie counterculture but failed to navigate a swerve in consumer tastes toward SUVs.

Serenaded by a mariachi band and surrounded by proud factory workers, the final units of the retro, rounded compact were celebrated at a VW plant in Mexico’s central Puebla state more than 80 years after the model was introduced in Germany.

The Puebla factory, which already produces VW’s Tiguan SUV, will make the Tarek SUV in place of the Beetle starting in late 2020, Volkswagen de Mexico Chief Executive Steffen Reiche said. The bigger vehicles are more popular in the United States, the main export market for the Mexico factory.

Story continues below advertisement

The last Beetles will be sold on Amazon.com in a move symbolizing the company’s embrace of the future, Reiche said.

“Today is the last day. It has been very emotional,” he said. The current design was the third version of the Beetle after two earlier cancellations and revivals of the marque.

CUAUTLANCINGO, MEXICO - JULY 10: A 54 Beetle is seen during a ceremony to announce the cease of the production of the VW Beetle after 21 years in the market, at Volkswagen Plant on July 10, 2019 in Cuautlancingo, Mexico. Considered as the successor of the Volkswagen Type 1, the Beetle was produced during 21 years in the Cuautlancingo plant, it is estimated that over 17 millions of units were produced.

HECTOR VIVAS/Getty Images

The “bug,” as the Beetle was nicknamed, debuted in 1938 as an affordable vehicle commissioned by Adolf Hitler to promote car ownership among Germans.

With its funky design and inexpensive price, the car became a success story over subsequent decades and was one of the top-selling models of all time as well as the best-selling import in the United States in the 1960s, according to auto publications.

In the 1960s, the Beetle was a small-is-beautiful icon of the postwar Baby Boom generation. The 1968 movie “The Love Bug,” which featured a zany anthropomorphic vehicle, stoked Beetle fever.

Despite its place in popular culture, sales of the Beetle have been lackluster in recent years. The German automaker announced in September that the Beetle would go extinct.

Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Cannabis pro newsletter
To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies