Iconic New Beetle records its 500,000th sale

VW continues to modify the New Beetle with additions like the 2003 convertible.


Sales of Volkswagen’s cute-as-a-button New Beetle roared past the half-million mark earlier this month south of the border, nine years after it made its worldwide debut at the Detroit auto show.

Roughly 10,000 New Beetles have found Canadian homes in the same span.

Excitement for VW’s original Beetle remained strong in North America during the 1960s through the end of its run in 1979. Like a true survivor, it only lay dormant until it returned to the scene as an evolution of the original. When the New Beetle was introduced in 1998, it took the U.S. and Canada by storm, and today passion for the iconic vehicle remains strong.

In contrast, it took nearly 13 years for the original Beetle to accomplish what the New Beetle did in nine — a half-million units sold.

Nine years after its debut, roughly 10,000 New Beetles can be found in Canadian homes.

Originally shown as the Concept 1 at the 1991 auto show in Detroit, the New Beetle’s profile and classic elements satisfied a desire for a design that was fresh and unique. When it entered the market in 1998, sales quickly exceeded the anticipated 50,000 units. It rejuvenated VW’s image in the North America market and helped drive sales across the company’s entire product range.

With New Beetle sales came an upsurge of the ‘Bug’ in pop culture. From the return of the “punch buggy” game to the 2005 movie Herbie: Fully Loaded, the New Beetle is truly a modern cultural phenomenon. New Beetle owners co-ordinate ‘Bug Ins’ and attend an annual celebration in Roswell, New Mexico, home of the alleged alien sighting.

Volkswagen continues to modify the New Beetle lineup to meet customer demand, offering a turbo version in 1999 and a convertible model in 2003. In 2005, it was refreshed cosmetically to give it a stronger, slightly more aggressive appearance. VW also gave the New Beetle an all-new 150 horsepower, 2.5-litre, in-line 5-cylinder engine.

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