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Volkswagen to stop making Beetle: Things to know about the iconic car

BS Web team & Agencies/ 14 Sep 18 | 12:18 PM

Volkswagen said on Thursday it would stop producing its Beetle compact car in 2019, ending a model that looked back to the 1960s counterculture as the automaker prepares for a leap towards a future of mass-market electric cars.

The end of the Beetle comes at a turning point for Volkswagen. The German automaker's last three years have been rocked by the fallout from a scandal caused by its admitted cheating on diesel emissions tests. Now, Volkswagen is gearing up to launch a wave of electric vehicles to appeal to a new generation of environmentally conscious consumers - children and grandchildren of the 1960s Beetle enthusiasts.

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In a statement announcing the end of the Beetle, Hinrich Woebcken, head of Volkswagen of America, said that as the company ramps up its electrification strategy, there are no plans to replace the Beetle.

As the curtains come down for the Beetle, here are some interesting facts about the iconic car:

1. Adolf Hitler -- the man behind Beetle: The original VW Beetle, developed in the 1930s, made a journey from a product identified with Adolf Hitler to a symbol of Germany's rebirth as a democratic, industrial powerhouse after World War Two. Hitler wanted German families to be able to afford a car, so he enlisted automaker Ferdinand Porsche to make "the people's car" -- or 'Volkswagen'. He originally named the car the "Kraft Durch Freude" meaning "strength through joy" but it was later changed to "Volkswagen".

2. The New York Times' part in the Beetle story: Initially, the car was simply called "Volkswagen". On July 13, 1938, The New York Times used the nickname "Beetle" for the first time and the name caught on.

3. Beetle's other nicknames: In France, it's called 'Coccinelle' or ladybug. In Italy, it's Maggiolino and in Brazil it's Fusca (both meaning beetle). Mexicans call it Vocho; in Bolivia it's Peta; and Kodok (frog) in Indonesia.

4. World's longest produced vehicle in history: The classic beetle was manufactured from 1998 to 2003, making it the world's longest produced vehicle in history. The classic beetle sold more than 21.5 million units in its lifetime.

5. Britain passed up on Volkswagen: The initial batch of Beetles came out before World War 2 started but production was halted in 1939 to produce military vehicles. The VW factory in Wolfsburg, Germany, was supposed to be handed over to the British but British car manufacturers passed up on the opportunity saying "it is quite unattractive to the average buyer". Eventually, VW was revived by a large order of cars for the British military.

6. An 18-year-old designed the Beetle: Bela Barenyi, an 18-year-old Hungarian student, submitted a chassis design for a "Volkswagen" in 1925 and is recognised as designing the basic VW Beetle.

7. Small is beautiful: In the 1960s, the Beetle was a small-is-beautiful icon of the postwar baby boom generation. Volkswagen discontinued U.S. sales of the "bug" in 1979, but continued production for Mexico and Latin America.

8. The New Beetle: In the mid-1990s, at a time when Volkswagen was struggling to rekindle sales in the United States, then-Chief Executive Ferdinand Piech pushed to revive and modernise the distinctive Beetle design. 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.

9. How many people can you fit in a Beetle?: The record for most numbers of people in Beetle (25) was set in Kremser, Austria.

10. Beetle in popular culture: The Beetle has featured in many films from 'The Shining' to James Bond's 'Quantum of Solace'. The model also has its own film series 'Herbie'. The Beetle with the license plate “LMW 28IF" on the cover of The Beatles' Abbey Road album was sold at an auction for $23,000 in 1986.

11. A pie of the profit: Co-founder of Domino's pizza Jim Monaghan sold his 50 per cent share of the company for a 1959 VW Beetle.

12. The last but not the least: The company said two special Beetle models will join the final lineup - Final Edition SE and Final Edition SEL - in the United States and would offer the driver-assistance technology.

9. The last but not the least: The company said two special Beetle models will join the final lineup - Final Edition SE and Final Edition SEL - in the United States and would offer the driver-assistance technology.

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