- volkswagen says its final goodbye to the beetle with a touching tribute video to air on new year's eve 2019.
- the iconic bug started life way back in 1938 and continued through 2019 thanks to modernized successors such as 1998's new beetle.
- electric vehicles will be the wave of the future for the german company with an ev suv launching in 2020.
as the clock counts down to midnight on the last day of 2019, millions of americans will be preparing their new year resolutions or looking forward to a fresh start for the 2020 calendar year. joining them will be volkswagen, which is celebrating the end of a very important era by saying a final goodbye to the beetle, its most iconic product.
in an emotional animated video, the bug's journey through the decades is honored while the pro musica youth chorus delivers its rendition of the classic beatles song "let it be." if you have any sort of connection to the beetle–and most of us do, including this writer, who piloted a red 30-year-old bug in high school and college—the ad is sure to evoke an emotional reaction of some sort.
celebrity cameos include kevin bacon, andy cohen, and andy warhol. warhol's inclusion here is a clear tribute to the artist who famously used the volkswagen's advertising in his artwork. bacon's character in the 1980s film classic footloose drove a yellow beetle from the early 1970s, and bravo tv host cohen is a known beetle fanatic, shown below posing with his son ben and a bright-orange vw.
the volkswagen type 1, which was the car's official model name, first entered production all the way back in 1938, but due to world war ii, the first deliveries of cars didn't happen until 1947. importation to the united states started in 1950 but the small german coupe was slow to catch on with american consumers, who preferred chrome-laden detroit-built lead sleds. the 1960s were more lucrative for the beetle, thanks in no small part to brilliant marketing campaigns, more powerful engines, southern california dune buggy culture, and a starring role alongside dean jones as herbie the love bug.
throughout the 1970s, more improvements kept beetle sales going and a mild redesign and a new name–super beetle–puts the car on pace to break the ford model t's record for most cars produced. by 1979, though, americans have moved on from the air-cooled two-door to more modern economy cars such as volkswagen's own golf, and the last beetle is sold in the united states. production continued on in mexico and brazil for global markets until 2003.
in 1998, volkswagen launches the new beetle and hopes to capitalize on nostalgia for the old bug by offering a curvaceously styled retromobile with a modern powertrain and contemporary features. although sales were strong at first, the new beetle failed to strike the same chord with buyers as the original and was redesigned in 2012 to be less cute and more masculine, but ultimately goes out of production in 2019.
by celebrating the end of the road for the beetle, volkswagen is wiping the slate clean—something the german company has been trying to do since it was caught cheating on epa emissions testing for its diesel engines in 2014—to help focus on an electric future. at the end of the video, a teaser for an upcoming id. electric vehicle is shown. volkswagen has been showing ev concept after ev concept at auto shows for the past few years, and it appears as though the company is gearing up for production of an electric suv in 2020.