No matter how you slice it, there’s no separating German automotive behemoth Volkswagen from their iconic Beetle. Not only did it launch the marque back in 1938, but with over 21-million of the things built over three generations, the Beetle is one of the most successful nameplates out there.
Then there’s the matter of its place in popular culture. The Beetle, together with the Microbus of the 1970s, were the preferred mode of transportation of the anti-establishment, and have cemented themselves as card-carrying members of the peace-and-love movement. However, VW executives confirmed to the media that the Beetle would not be renewed for a fourth generation upon the expiry of the current car next year.
However, it seems that priorities for the company may have changed. With VW currently hard at work developing a new range of electric cars, underpinned by the MEB EV platform and marketed under the ‘I.D.’ family of cars, it’s reported that the Beetle could be reimagined as an all-electric, four-door family hatchback.
New Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess has reported that the company is keen to introduce (or in this case, retain) more “emotional” VWs, and the Beetle would be such a car. The cachet that the Beetle brand commands is undeniable, and simply letting it die would be a crying shame. But thanks to the infinite-modularity of the MEB platform, the Beetle may just live to fight another day, if VW’s design boss’ comments to Autocar are any indication.
“The Beetle of Today is a very attractive coupé or convertible, but it is limited in appeal because it’s a niche. If you look at MEB, the shortest wheelbase [possible] is the ID [hatch]. If you took that and did the Beetle on it, you’d have plenty of room, so there’s no compromise in functionality anymore. So it could be a very attractive car.” — Klaus Bischoff, Head of Design, Volkswagen
While the Beetle has been missing from our market since 2016, culminating in a final batch of ‘Classic’ Beetles with retro wheels and decals (which you might find here), if the Beetle does indeed get the green light from VW’s board of smart people who make business decisions, it’ll be a day to celebrate one more automotive icon saved from being relegated to the pages of history.