Volkswagen Australia has confirmed that it will “phase out” the second-generation New Beetle later this year, only three years after this iteration entered sale.
But before it clears extant stocks, Volkswagen Australia will give interested buyers one last bite of the cherry, with plans to launch a special model called the Beetle Classic, a stripped-back variant with a unique look and no options.
Why this decision? Sales of the retro bug have faltered, and the business case has clearly evaporated. With one of the largest model ranges on the market, Volkswagen Australia is clearly seeking to reduce complexity.
Pictured: Beetle Classic.
This is an Australian-market decision. The Mexico-made New Beetle will continue to be sold overseas.
Management at Volkswagen Australia has form in this regard: it axed the much-hyped Up city car and Scirocco coupe in 2014, though it re-launched the latter with a facelift shortly after. It also globally axed the Eos around the same time.
Sales of the second-generation of the reborn Beetle have declined from 799 in 2013, to 240 in 2015. Sales are actually up this year, but 43 units over two months is a trickle compared to years gone by.
Pictured: First-generation New Beetle.
When the previous-generation, reborn New Beetle launched in 2000, Volkswagen Australia's annual sales tally was 1328, about one-sixth of the brand’s then total sales. But the retro wave crested and receded, the tide turned, and sales never went anywhere but backwards.
For whatever reason — and despite plaudits that this MY13 ‘new’ New Beetle was a much better car than its undercooked predecessor — it’s never really caught on like fellow new-but-old icons such as the Fiat 500 and Mini, both of which slap it in sales.
The Beetle range was already running at a shadow of its former self in Australia, with no convertibles in sight. The only variant on sale has been a coupe with a 118kW 1.4-litre force-fed engine matched to a six-speed manual or seven-speed DSG, priced between $31,390 and $33,890 plus on-road costs.
Pictured: Original Beetle.
Volkswagen Australia statement:
“The Beetle has become a niche model in Australia, and we plan to phase out the current generation later in the year,” the company said.
“Of course, the Beetle is such a significant part of our heritage both locally and around the world, which is why we are planning to bid farewell to the current Beetle in Australia with a limited-run special model that will offer some unique equipment and individualised numbering.
“Rest assured, the current Beetle will get the send-off it deserves.”
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