Berlin: Leading German car manufacturer Volkswagen has decided to stop poduction of its iconic Beetle after nearly seven decades of US sales, the company's American unit announced.
In a statement issued on Thursday, Volkswagen Group of America said global production of the "Bug" car would end in July 2019 and announced two final edition models.
"The loss of the Beetle after three generations, over nearly seven decades, will evoke a host of emotions from the Beetle's many devoted fans," CEO of the unit, Hinrich Woebcken, said.
Asserting that there are "no immediate plans to replace it", Woebcken added: "I would also say, never say never."
Regarded as Germany's rebirth as a democratic, industrial powerhouse after World War II, the Beetle was introduced in Nazi Germany in 1938, after Adolf Hitler had asked automotive engineer Ferdinand Porsche to design a people's car (Volkswagen in German).
The bulbous car came to the US in 1949 and became a transportation mode of choice for hippies in the 1960s.
During 1990, at a time when Volkswagen was struggling to rekindle sales in the United States, then-Chief Executive Ferdinand Piech decided to revive and modernise the distinctive Beetle design pioneered by his grandfather, Ferdinand Porsche.
The result was a crescent-shaped car called the "New Beetle," launched in 1998, which offered playful touches such as a built-in flower vase. The New Beetle was a hit during its early years, with sales of more than 80,000 in the United States in 1999.
The company revamped it for the 2012 model year in an effort to make it appeal to men. US sales rose fivefold to more than 29,000 in the first year, rising to just over 46,000 in 2013 but tailing off after that.
More than 21.5 million original Beetles were manufactured worldwide until the last one that was produced in Mexico in 2003. According to Autodata Corp, Volkswagen sold some 15,160 last year alone.
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