The 1997 Volkswagen Beetle Craze—and the Future of the Brand

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Cars are more than just modes of transportation to take us from one place to the next. In many cases, cars are rich with history. Their evolution throughout the years represents time periods, social change and more. One example of a car of this magnitude is none other than the Volkswagen Beetle.
Described by HowStuffWorks as “an unlikely instrument of national politics and a lever for social uplift,” the Volkswagen Beetle had been an incredibly popular car that, until recently, has withstood the test of time. So, what is this car’s history? And, what is its future?
The Volkswagen Beetle has an interesting history.

1997 Volkswagen Beetle - 2010 Volkswagen Beetle (1st Generation)

AutoList breaks up the Volkswagen Beetle into two major generations—the first of which ranges from 1997 to 2010. But, to understand this generation and the craze that ensued, we’ll need to back up just a bit.
Prior to 1997, the Volkswagen Beetle had been absent from the car market for nearly two decades. When it re-emerged, the car had a totally new look and design from earlier models. 
Volkswagen got rid of the confusing design that placed the car’s engine in the back and luggage in the front. Instead, the first generation had front wheel drive, the engine in the front, and cargo space in the back, Popular Mechanics reports. 
The Beetle had a cute and quirky design that perfectly fit into the 90s and people couldn’t get enough of the adorable ride. While it wasn’t anything revolutionary that changed the car industry forever, the 1997 Volkswagen Beetle simply provided good vibes and good marketing—and the strategy worked as sales soared. 

2011 Volkswagen Beetle - 2019 Volkswagen Beetle (2nd Generation)

After the first generation, the Beetle was picking up speed and riding the popularity wave. The second generation of the Volkswagen Beetle, debuting around 2011 was larger than the earlier Beetle models, and shared its platform with the Volkswagen Jetta, Auto Trends reports.
The shared spotlight with other Volkswagen cars was the first sign the Beetle was declining in popularity. While Volkswagen tried to update the car with a more modern design including features like a slightly longer body, a less pointed rear-end, and a less sloped back-side, according to Fox Valley Auto Group, the car would only hold on to its popularity for a few more years.

Future of the Volkswagen Beetle

During the second generation of the Volkswagen Beetle, the car’s popularity peaked and then began to slow down drastically. The peak sales for the Beetle were in 2013 at 43,000 units just within the United States. Following 2013, the Beetle’s sales slowed significantly, taking a dip further and further down each year.
In 2019, Volkswagen announced they would end this wild ride and discontinue the production of the Beetle for good. Today, Volkswagen is focused on the next big thing in the automotive industry—electric vehicles
But older generations of the Beetle are still on the market for resale today. It’s not too uncommon to see a Beetle every once in a while on the road, so next time you’re out driving be sure to keep your eyes peeled for this classic car

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