END OF AN ERA: The original VW Beetle, developed in the 1930s, made a journey from a product identified with Adolf Hitler to a symbol of Germany’s rebirth as a democratic, industrial powerhouse after World War Two. Photo: File.
END OF AN ERA: The original VW Beetle, developed in the 1930s, made a journey from a product identified with Adolf Hitler to a symbol of Germany’s rebirth as a democratic, industrial powerhouse after World War Two. Photo: File.
LAST OF THE LINE: Volkswagen has sold about 500 000 Beetles globally since 1998. Photo: Volkswagen of America
LAST OF THE LINE: Volkswagen has sold about 500 000 Beetles globally since 1998. Photo: Volkswagen of America

Production of the Volkswagen Beetle, an iconic car model that was revived in the United States about 20 years ago, will end next year, VW of America said Thursday.

The decision, which it announced in a statement, comes as the company shifts emphasis to sport utility vehicles (SUVs) to meet consumer demand.

"The loss of the Beetle after three generations, over nearly seven decades, will evoke a host of emotions from the Beetle's many devoted fans," said Hinrich J Woebcken, president and chief executive of Volkswagen Group of America.

As the company moves to being a more family-focused carmaker in the US and ramps up its strategy for electric cars, there are no immediate plans to replace the Beetle, Woebcken said.

But he then hinted that the car could return, referring to the ID BUZZ, a modern interpretation of the legendary Volkswagen bus. "I would also say, 'Never say never.'"

The "Bug," as it is affectionately known in the United States, first hit the US in 1949 and enjoyed great success. It had a starring role as Herbie in the 1968 Disney film, "The Love Bug." Sales peaked that year at about 423,000 units, according to Bloomberg News.

The car returned in the 1990s when VW began production at its plant in Puebla, Mexico. Last year, VW delivered just 15,166 units, down 3.2 per cent.

Before VW ceases production of the car the company will release two special models this year, VW of America said in the news release.