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Volkswagen plans to squash production of one of its most iconic cars

A 2018 Volkswagen Beetle on display at the Pittsburgh Auto Show Thursday, Feb. 15, 2018. During the Geneva Motor Show in early March, Volkswagen leaders announced plans to stop producing the Beetle after the current generation.
A 2018 Volkswagen Beetle on display at the Pittsburgh Auto Show Thursday, Feb. 15, 2018. During the Geneva Motor Show in early March, Volkswagen leaders announced plans to stop producing the Beetle after the current generation. AP Photo

The Beetle, the Bug, Herbie—whatever you call it, it looks like it's being phased out.

German automaker Volkswagen plans to stop production on the iconic vehicle after the current generation, the company's research and development leader Frank Welsch confirmed to Autocar at this week's Geneva Motor Show.

Despite makings it way onto various lists of most influential vehicles last century, Beetle sales have been poor in recent years, Forbes reports, and enthusiasm among Volkswagen designers has waned.

The first generation of Beetle, officially designated the Volkswagen Type 1, was mass produced from 1945-1979. The second-generation "New Beetle" ran from 1997-2011, before being revamped and redesigned for the 2012 model year.

Welsch told Autocar that "two or three generations is enough now." Volkswagen will focus its attention on a few new models that will take the torch from the compact car.

The two-door T-Roc cabriolet crossover, planned for 2020, will succeed the Beetle's convertible duties. And the Beetle's role as a throwback/"heritage" model will be overtaken by the I.D. Buzz, Volkswagen's electric revival of the California-hippie-favorite microbus. The first iteration of the I.D. Buzz is set to come to the U.S. in 2022.

Volkswagen is officially bringing back the microbus, a hippie favorite first released in the 1950s. Set to hit America in 2022, the I.D. Buzz will be electric and could have self-driving elements.

Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess said during the Geneva show that "Volkswagen is evolving into an SUV brand," Autoweek reported.

It is, of course, possible that the Beetle resurfaces in some form down the road, as it did after its two-decade hiatus between the 1970s and '90s. But as Welsch told Autocar, "you can't do it five times and have a new new new Beetle."

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