German automaker, Volkswagen, has announced plans to end production of its iconic Beetle by the end of the 2019 model-year.
The company has now launched the “Final Edition” which are special versions of the Beetle coupe and convertible models that will mark the end of the run sometime next year.
Volkswagen announced last year that it will revive another once-legendary model, the Microbus, a hippie-era staple. It will make its return early in the coming decade as the battery-electric ID Buzz. VW plans to introduce dozens of electric vehicles as it shifts away from the diesel engines that created scandal for the brand and cost VW upwards of $30 billion. Some are speculating that the Beetle might also see a rebirth with a battery pack under its hood.
The VW Beetle was conceived in Germany during the run-up to World War II, and became an icon of the American counterculture during the Vietnam War.
It is the longest-running car in automotive history. The first Beetle was assembled in 1938 but production was disrupted as German manufacturing was shifted to a war footing. And the Beetle might have vanished entirely if it weren’t for a British officer assigned to oversee the restoration of VW’s factory in the heavily bombed town of Wolfsburg after the end of the war. He spotted one of the little coupes under a pile of rubble and decided to start building the car again.
As the German economy recovered, the Beetle was one of its first cars to be shipped to the U.S., quickly developing a loyal following among those who disdained the massive boulevard cruisers Detroit was producing. Demand exploded in the 1960s as VW’s Beetle and Microbus became symbols of the anti-war counterculture, with sales of the little coupe climbing to 400,000 annually at one point, making Volkswagen the leading automotive importer.