Speculations report that the Volkswagen company may be ceasing production on one of its most iconic car model in 2018, the Volkswagen Beetle.
According to a tweet from Autoline, Autoforecast Solutions has predicted that the Beetle era could be ending in two years to make way for the Volkswagen Tiguan model. The era had seen 20 years and two generations of production before its presumed finish.
The Volkswagen Beetle was produced in the year 1998 and opened a niche in the market for modern-retro designs. It paved the way for other models such as the Ford Mustang, Chrysler PT Cruiser, Mini Cooper, Ford Thunderbird and Dodge Challenger.
The Beetle held popularity for the coming years but continued to decline in U.S. sales, "historically its best market." In 2015, it had dropped to 22,667 deliveries or 22.3 percent decrease in sales despite the Beetle's second generation model rolling out in 2012. From this year's January through March, Beetle volume has been estimated to drop to 42.1 percent.
The decline could be attributed to the changing trend in the auto consumer market from traditional cars to utility-like vehicles. Consumers have been upgrading to SUV/CUV type vehicles which automakers are hitching a ride on. The Volkswagen car company has redesigned its Tiguan model to become a "true midsizer" while its Touareg "handles mid-luxury SUV duties" to keep up with the hype. R&T writes that it's likely "doubtful that [Volkswagen] needs to cancel the Beetle to open up production capacity."
Previous announcements from Volkswagen have, however, been puzzling. Rumors from Germany had circulated about the company "squashing its bug because killing it would save money" while Dr. Heinz-Jakob Neusser, the then-board member for R&D at Volkswagen, later told Autoblog that a new third generation Beetle was under works "and the next Beetle would ride on the MQB platform." Neusser has since then been booted off the company due to several emission scandals Volkswagen is facing.
Currently, the company has been spending a fortune to make up for the scandals and is now prioritizing crossover models. Automobile writes that what Volkswagen has done lately is to "show crossover concept after crossover concept, and we've already seen the new Tiguan in Europe as well as spied prototypes of the upcoming three-row crossover."
Volkswagen has yet to confirm if the Beetle prediction is true as they "don't comment on media speculation."