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VW unveils Beetle Final Edition

December 2, 2018

The latest and final version of the Volkswagen Beetle has been unveiled at the LA Auto Show. VW is preparing to turn its focus towards a future of mass-market electric cars.

Beetle Final Edition in front of a sunset
Image: Volkswagen/Friso Gentsch

The final version of the VW Beetle, named the Beetle Final Edition, was revealed on Saturday at the Los Angeles Auto Show. A spokesman for the German automaker said there are no plans for further versions of the iconic vehicle, but added the caveat, "We're never going to say never."  

"This is a really important edition of the Beetle because it's the last one that'll be made as far as we know," said Mark Gillies, Senior Manager for Product Communications at Volkswagen US.

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The final version of the classic car comes as the American branch of the automaker turns its attention to mass-market electric cars to appeal to a new generation of environmentally conscious consumers — children and grandchildren of the 1960s Beetle enthusiasts. 

VW's Nazi origins
The Beetle has its roots in Germany's Nazi era. It was first developed with support from Adolf Hitler. The Nazi ruler ordered the carmaker in 1934 to create a mass-market "people's car," or "Volkswagen," and in 1937 formed the state-run company to develop it.

The Beetle became an icon of the country's rebirth after World War II. A second model made more than 500,000 sales worldwide after its 1998 launch. The car was updated in 2012, and the final model will be available in 2019.

American beginnings

The "Bug" made its US debut in the 1950s, but sales were weak, partly due to the company's Nazi origins.

Deutschland Automobilindustrie VW Volkswagen l Beetle vs Käfer
Quite a change between the "old" and Final Edition BeetlesImage: Volkswagen/Friso Gentsch

In 1959, the car was christened the "Beetle" by an advertising agency, who began touting the Beetle's small size as an advantage to consumers, according to the History Channel.

The car attained further popularity with the 1968 Disney movie "The Love Bug," the story of a racing Volkswagen with a mind of its own. 

Emissions scandal

Globally, VW is struggling to recover from the Dieselgate scandal, which broke in 2015 and brought with it legal claims totaling billions over the installation of defeat devices into 11 million cars worldwide to fool regulatory emissions tests. 

kw/sms (AFP, Reuters)

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