Volkswagen to stop production of Beetle car next year

The easily recognisable colours and number of Herbie Credit: PA

Production of the distinctive Beetle car is to end amid a decline in sales.

Volkswagen announced it will stop making the bug-shaped vehicle at its Mexico plant in July 2019 after releasing two special editions.

The Beetle was developed in Nazi Germany after being conceived in the early 1930s by engineer Ferdinand Porsche.

Then-prime minister David Cameron and German chancellor Angela Merkel view a Volkswagen Beetle Type 1 at the British Museum (Dan Kitwood/ Credit: PA

He was commissioned by Adolf Hitler to develop a mass production car that could carry a family of four with luggage.

Production was stalled by the onset of the Second World War, but in 1945 the Volkswagen factory was saved by British Army officer Major Ivan Hirst.

His belief that the affordable, reliable and practical vehicle could be sold beyond Germany proved to be correct.

A classic model displayed in an unusual way at the 1962 London Motor Show Credit: PA).

Despite its foundation in Nazi Germany, the Beetle went on to be one of the biggest selling foreign-made cars in the US during the 1960s, proving popular with hippies.

It also featured in a series of Disney films as a talking car named Herbie.

The easily recognisable colours and number of Herbie Credit: Alistair Wilson 50/50/PA

The car was sold for around 30 years in the US before being taken off the market in 1979.

It went on and off sale several times over the following decades, with the last original design rolling out of the Mexico factory in 2003.

A strikingly-coloured model on show at a Volkswagen festival Credit: Alistair Wilson 50/50/PA

The Beetle was revamped in the late 1990s, proving particularly popular among female motorists.

US sales reached 46,000 in 2013 but tailed off in the following years as demand for larger cars such as crossovers and sports utility vehicles rose.

Announcing the end of production, Volkswagen, which was hit by the diesel emissions scandal, said it was ramping up its development of electric vehicles.

A close-up of a design classic Credit: Alistair Wilson 50/50/PA

The firm’s US chief executive Hinrich Woebcken said in a statement: “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.”

Volkswagen has no plans to revive the much-celebrated car again, but did not rule it out as a possibility.

Mr Woebcken added: “I would say ‘never say never’.”