The final car, a coupe in Stonewashed Blue, was built on 10 July at Volkswagen de Mexico’s Puebla plant and will go into the factory’s adjacent museum as production switches to a compact SUV.
The two cars built immediately before the last, finished in Kings Red and fitted with quilted seats, a custom dash and special keys, will go into Volkswagen of America’s collection in the USA.
The last Beetles built were actually the third generation to wear the Beetle name. The first, as most know, was conceived by Ferdinand Porsche in Nazi Germany, but only a handful were produced at a purpose-built factory in Wolfsburg before World War II started. Production recommenced at Wolfsburg in 1945 under British military occupation and boomed during the 1950s.
That success led to the establishment of overseas manufacturing operations in Brazil, Nigeria and Australia, as well as Mexico, where Beetles were built at Puebla from 1967 (CKD assembly had started six years earlier).
While German manufacture of the Beetle ended in 1979, it continued in Puebla until 2003, when an estimated 21.5 million had been built: a record for a single-model/single-design automobile.
The second-generation ‘New Beetle’ was introduced in concept form in 1994 and went into production in 1997. Manufactured exclusively in Puebla, 1.2 million coupe and convertible examples were built before that version was discontinued in 2010.
The third and final generation arrived a year later as a modernised, reskinned version of the New Beetle. Also built exclusively at the Puebla plant, reaction to the third generation Beetle was lukewarm, reflecting the car buying public’s growing move away from passenger cars to SUVs.
Any chance of a fourth Beetle revival seems unlikely, but VW have presented both Type 2 (aka Kombi van) and dune buggy concepts on their new electric iD platform, so Beetle fans remain hopeful.
“It’s impossible to imagine where Volkswagen would be without the Beetle,” said Scott Keogh, President and CEO, Volkswagen Group of America.
“From its first import in 1949 to today’s retro-inspired design, it has showcased our company’s ability to fit round pegs into square holes of the automotive industry. While its time has come, the role it has played in the evolution of our brand will be forever cherished.”