If this report were accurate, it would mark the end of an icon for the German company. Introduced for the 1998 model year, the first-gen New Beetle was an affordable halo model for the then-quirky brand. It rode a wave of retro-modern designs like the Chrysler PT Cruiser and Ford Thunderbird, and the VW was among the best looking of those vehicles. A second generation arrived for the 2012 model year. Despite huge popularity in the '90s, US sales fell 22.3 percent last year to 22,667 deliveries. Beetle volume has dropped 42.1 percent from January through March 2016.
Two contradictory reports from last year add further mystery about the Beetle's future. First, a rumor from Germany claimed that VW was considering squashing its bug because killing it would save money. Conversely, Dr. Heinz-Jakob Neusser told Autoblog shortly afterward that a third-generation model was in development, and the next Beetle would ride on the MQB platform.
VW's public perception has been dragged through the mud over the last few months in the wake of the still-developing diesel scandal, and we're not so sure that killing the Beetle is a good idea. While sales aren't at their strongest, the joyful model shows a happier side of the brand, and it offers a direct link to a fondly remembered past. If investments into a third generation are already happening – and we wouldn't be surprised if they were – we'd like to see how VW keeps the Beetle fresh once again.