Volkswagen to end production of Beetle vehicle line

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Production of the iconic and long-standing Volkswagen Beetle will finally cease in 2019, the German carmaker announced on Friday.

"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," a statement by Hinrich J. Woebcken, president and chief executive officer of Volkswagen Group's U.S. division read.

The final Beetle, officially known as the Volkswagen Type 1, is scheduled to roll off the assembly line in Puebla, Mexico in July 2019. Until then, Volkswagen is offering a special "Final Edition" of the vehicle which has built a cult following across the world.

Volkswagen explained the decision to pull the plug on the Beetle as owing to a growing preference among customer for Special Utility Vehicles (SUV) over smaller cars. The Wolfsburg-based company said that it wanted to become a "full-line, family-focused automaker" and direct more of its attention to the development of the company's "electrification strategy."

The VW Beetle enjoyed particular popularity in the United States where it was first introduced in 1949 and became known colloquially as a "bug". According to estimates, 423,000 models were sold in a single year in 1969 after the release of the Disney movie "The Love Bug" in which a magical Beetle named Herbie helps restore the fortunes of a racing driver who has fallen on hard times.

The Beetle achieved a short-lived comeback in the 1990s when Volkswagen gave the model a first design revamp but has since increasingly suffered from falling sales. In 2017, only 15,166 vehicles in total were produced in Pueblo.

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