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VW officially ends Beetle production

by Drew Johnson

The last Beetle was built today in Mexico.

For the first time in eight-decades, the Volkswagen Beetle is out of production. VW's plant in Pueblo, Mexico built the last Beetle on Wednesday, signaling an end to a vehicle originally launched in 1939.

The VW Beetle had the ugliest birth in automotive history -- having been conceived by Adolf Hitler -- but the friendly little car went on to have a very successful life. Post-war production of the "people's car” began in 1949 and by 1955 there were 1 million Beetles on the road.

Known as the Type 1, that first-generation Beetle eventually came to America and was a smash hit. At its peak in 1968, U.S. Beetle sales hit 563,522 units, representing 40 percent of global Beetle production.

As it transitioned to a front-wheel drive lineup, VW ceased German production of the Type 1 in 1978. However, the design lived on in Mexico where it was built until 2003.

VW reintroduced the Beetle to much fanfare in 1998. Like the original, the design was popular at first, but interest in the quirky vehicle eventually waned. VW revised the Beetle in 2012 in hopes of sparking consumer interest, but sales continued to fall.

During its multi-decade run, VW built a total of 21.5 million Beetles, nearly 5 million of which ended up in the United States.

The Puebla plant, which has been making Beetles since 1967, will replace the Beetle on the production line with a compact SUV that will slot beneath the VW Tiguan and be sold in the North American market.

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