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Gotta Love This Bug! VW Beetle Breaks 200 MPH

Herbie now second-fastest Beetle.

by on Sep.20, 2016

VW's specially tuned Beetle LSR set a new speed record for a Beetle at 205.122 mph.

Move over Herbie! The Love Bug is now the second fastest Beetle on Planet Earth.

Volkswagen revealed it rolled out a “specially tuned” VW Beetle LSR at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Wendover, Utah, and set a new “Beetle” record of 205.122 mph over a flying mile.

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The special Beetle sported a 2.0-liter turbocharged, direct-injection four-cylinder TSI gasoline engine and was driven by Automobile magazine contributing editor Preston Lerner. (more…)

VW May Kill Off the Beetle

Cost cutting program threatens maker’s slow-selling product lines.

by on Mar.10, 2015

Despite adding variants like the Convertible, sales of the latest Beetle have been sluggish.

It may serve as the icon of the Volkswagen brand, but barely three years after launching an all-new version of the Beetle, the little car may be an endangered species, one of several VW products in the crosshairs as the German maker races to slash spending by about €5 billion, or $5.4 billion, by 2017.

Another model likely to vanish is the three-door version of the Polo subcompact, according to various reports out of Germany. Other slow-sellers, such as the Scirocco might also be targeted.

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VW isn’t reining things in entirely. The maker is investing heavily in its utility vehicle line-up, with a midsize model set to be built at its plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and a new version of the Tiguan to go into its Puebla, Mexico factory. Expanding those facilities will cost the German maker nearly $2 billion.


VW Celebrates 65 Years of Beetle in America

Three generations later, car is integral to maker’s US success.

by on Jan.31, 2014

Volkwagen's history in the United States is captured in this photo of the 2014 Beetle, left, and the 1949 Beetle, right.

One of the key elements of the German post-World War II economic miracle has reached something a milestone this month.

The Volkswagen Beetle, one of the reborn German auto industry’s most enduring and fabled icons, celebrates 65 years since it first arrived in the United States. In January 1949, a Volkswagen “Type 1,” or Beetle, was shipped to New York City. Sent to Ben Pon, Sr., who was a Dutch businessman and the world’s first official Volkswagen importer.

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It was the first time the Beetle, which went on to become something of a counter-culture staple by the 1960s, was sold in the United States. In fact, sales skyrocketed by 100% after the first one was arrived: VW sent a second one that year and it sold too. (more…)

First Drive: 2013 Volkswagen Convertible

The new “people’s car” goes topless.

by on Nov.28, 2012

VW engineers worked hard to maintain the Beetle coupe's shape - while also enhancing the top-down fun of the Beetle Convertible.

VW is ready to blow its top – and, in the process, reinforce its reputation for engineering, innovation and sportiness with the introduction of the new 2013 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible, which is debuting this week at the 2012 LA Auto Show.

The new model, which follows into showrooms a year after the debut of the third-generation Volkswagen Beetle Coupe, shares the same basic dimensions – in fact, one of the more notable accomplishments for VW engineers was the way they were able to maintain the distinctive shape of the new Beetle with the ragtop version.

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Another accomplishment was maintaining the fun-to-drive character of the classic “people’s car,” with the top up, but especially down – as learned during a drive of the new VW Beetle Convertible in the days before its official LA Auto Show reveal.

It’s one of those situations where VW engineers had to make some significant tweaks to keep everything pretty much the same.  That meant subtle modifications to the chassis to maintain stiffness and drivability of the new Beetle Convertible. Even though it carries some additional weight, even the base version of the new ragtop delivers a firm ride, responsive steering, and reliable and predictable cornering. Oh, and toss in a good set of brakes.

Even with the base 2.5-liter engine, the new Beetle Convertible delivers 170 horsepower, which is plenty of power for enjoying open air motoring. The two more expensive versions, with VW’s TDI diesel, and the maker’s 2-liter gasoline turbo with its 200 horsepower, offer more punch and have an edge in traffic by providing the extra boost needed for passing and other maneuvers.

The Beetle Convertible also is surprisingly quiet.  The ragtop’s fold-back roof contains three separate layers which helps minimize the road noise when the roof is up.

In addition, the top is powered by two electric motors and latches and unlatches automatically at the touch of a button, which is located on the upper rail of the windshield surround. The top takes just 9.5 seconds to stow and 11.0 seconds to be raised, the extra time needed to latch the roof’s header to the windshield.

Incidentally, the top can be raised and lowered at speeds of up to 31 mph. An integrated wind blocking system is available on the Beetle Convertible as a Volkswagen Genuine Accessory.

Klaus Bischoff, Head Designer, Volkswagen Brand, noted the Beetle Convertible was not just a copy of the original, insisting the design of the third-generation Beetle Convertible can stand on its own.

However, the Beetle Convertible retains the bold, purposeful stance of the Coupe, thanks to a wider tracks and a longer wheelbase than the previous New Beetle Convertible. Compared with the 2006 version of the “New” Beetle, the latest Convertible is 3.3 inches wider at 71.2 inches; 1.1 inches lower at 58.0 inches tall; and 6.0 inches longer at 168.4 inches overall.

“Retro is not our thing: we are always looking forward. Volkswagen has reinterpreted the Beetle Convertible’s timeless design with a sportier and more dynamic silhouette, just as it did with the Beetle Coupe. The car is substantially wider, has a longer hood, and has a more upright windshield that sits further back than before. The standard rear spoiler reinforces the car’s sporty look,” he said.

Nonetheless, at launch, there will be three special editions of the Beetle Convertible with design themes echoing the 1950,’60s and 70s when the Bug was in its heyday.

The extra attention from Volkswagen engineers and designers comes at a price. The base model for the new convertible starts at $24,995, the TDI version jumping to $30,295. And the 2-liter turbo package carries a stiff price tag of $33,000 – all these figures adding the $795 destination charge to the sticker.

VW has been building convertibles since 1949 and the Beetle has been one of the most popular open-top cars ever built. More than 330,000 examples of the first Beetle Convertible were manufactured over a 32-year span, while another 234,619 New Beetle Convertibles were produced in an eight-year period.

The new Beetle Convertible is definitely a worthy successor to the earlier versions and a whole lot of fun to drive.  For Volkswagen, it could be one more motivator to get more Americans back into what was once the most popular ragtop in America.


Has Volkswagen Reinvented the Automobile?

New design and manufacturing system could slash costs, time to market.

by on Oct.16, 2012

Some of the new VW Golf's biggest changes may not be readily apparent to buyers.

Every so often, a product comes along that transforms the auto industry.  Henry Ford’s Model T was one example. So was the original Volkswagen Beetle.

Despite the usual marketing hype, the third-generation Beetle that VW launched last year is far from a revolutionary breakthrough – or so it might seem at first glance.  From a designer’s view, it is a morph somewhere between the original “people’s car” and the so-called “New Beetle” of a decade back.

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Yet, a closer inspection suggests that the latest iteration of the iconic coupe is far more revolutionary than might initially meet the eye.  That’s because the real breakthrough comes in the way the newest Beetle – and virtually everything else that will now be developed by the German automotive giant – is being designed and manufactured.


VW Looks at Low Cost Brand for Emerging Markets

German maker hopes to halve current base price.

by on Oct.15, 2012

A 1946 "people's car." VW is looking at ways to repeat its success by targeting emerging markets with a new bare-bones car line.

It’s first “people’s car,” the Beetle, was originally designed to help get a new generation of German drivers on the road – and during the ‘50s and ‘60s became the car of choice in the U.S. and many other markets for first-time buyers.

But the latest version of the Volkswagen Bug is anything but an economy car.  And with automakers anxiously eying opportunities in today’s emerging markets, that has VW thinking about ways to repeat its past success – possibly by launching an all-new line of economy models that could be sold for as little as $6,500, the maker has confirmed.

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The maker has considered several ways to get there, possibly by partnering with erstwhile competitors such as Malaysia’s Proton or Japan’s Suzuki, but VW officials are now focused on launching a new sub-brand of their own, they’ve confirmed in several interviews.


First Look: 2013 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible

A true 4-seater?

by on Oct.04, 2012

The 3rd-generation VW Beetle ragtop will debut at the November L.A. Auto Show.

While the autumn leaves may be turning color and temperatures begin to drop around much of the country, Volkswagen is giving us a first look at something it hopes will warm our hearts, the all-new, third-generation VW Beetle Convertible.

The 2013 ragtop will make its official debut at the upcoming L.A. Auto Show in late November, these images will give us something to think about for the next eight weeks.

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The German maker contends that, just as with the new Beetle Coupe, the Convertible’s new look is bolder and more masculine – and though it is not intended to be a retro-mobile, it clearly harkens back to the silhouette of the original Beetle cabriolet.


VW Beetle: Mini 911 or a Big Mistake?

In an effort to broaden its appeal Beetle is more aggressive, less cute.

by on May.30, 2012

Everything old is new again: the newest Beetle lined up against a silhouette of the original "people's car."

This is a story about the Volkswagen Beetle, not the New Beetle, which is actually the old Beetle. But not the really old Beetle, the one designed by Ferdinand Porsche for Adolf Hitler prior to World War II. That’s because the old Beetle was actually called the New Beetle while this new Beetle is simply called Beetle. Or you can just call it Bug. Whatever is easier.

VW’s goal with the new Bug is to broaden its appeal beyond its mostly female base who loved the old car because of its iconic – and more importantly cute – styling.

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So the new Beetle is less bubble-like. It’s wider and lower with a flatter roof. The front end is more aggressive. There’s a bit of wedge shape rising toward the back end. Inside, it’s not surprising that the flower vase is gone.

It’s a huge gamble. While sales had slowed, there was still a core group of people who were mesmerized by the cute-as-a-bug-in-a-rug styling. There have been plenty of slick wedges, but the New Beetle was different in a world of same. It’s still different, but a little more normal.


VW Adding Another 800 Jobs in Chattanooga

Maker struggling to meet booming demand.

by on Mar.22, 2012

Workers assemble a 2012 VW Passat at the maker's assembly plant in Chattanooga.

Volkswagen will create another 800 jobs at its new assembly plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee as it pushes to meet soaring demand. That comes on top of previous plans that will now bring a total of 1,000 new workers to the factory that opened only last year.

The Chattanooga plant is the first the German maker has operated in the U.S. in a quarter century and is a critical part of the maker’s commitment to boost sales to record levels by 2018.  But equally significant has been VW’s decision to develop cars specifically for the U.S. market for the first time, including the new Passat sedan being produced in Tennessee.

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Sales of the new Passat got off to a fast start for the 2012 model-year, helping Volkswagen score its best monthly volumes in four decades in February.

“This is a clear sign that the plant ramp-up has been successful and is a validation that the Passat is of the highest quality,” said Frank Fischer, CEO of the Chattanooga operation.


Volkswagen Hints at Production Plans for Beetle R

Updated CC also debuts in LA.

by on Nov.17, 2011

VW is hinting at production plans for the Beetle R concept -- if it gets a good response at the LA show.

You think only the Chinese are good at copying?  Well, take a closer look at what the Germans have in store, notably the folks up at Volkswagen headquarters in Wolfsburg, where they appear to be readying their own version of the vaunted BMW M series, shifting down the alphabet and coming up with the new VW R line.

The new Volkswagen R GmbH subsidiary has already tipped its hands with the Golf R and Scirocco models, the potential next-in-line offering making its debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show this past September.

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With the Volkswagen Beetle R Concept now crossing the Atlantic for a North American debut at the L.A. Auto Show it appears the prototype is going to make the jump to production, as well.

The concept offers a glimpse of how the Beetle will look when equipped with different bumpers with three contrasting air intakes and a front spoiler/air splitter, 20-inch wheels with five triple spokes and blue R brake calipers.