Wolfsburg / Shanghai / Berlin / New York – When the first Beetle rolled off the production line, it was called simply the Volkswagen — “the people’s car” — but its distinctive shape inspired nicknames across the globe: Beetle, Käfer, Vocho, Coccinelle, Fusca, Maggiolino or 甲壳虫! In total, 21.5 million cars were sold.
More than 60 years later, in 1998, the “New Beetle” rekindled the spirit and imagination of the original to a new generation of Volkswagen owners. The second generation version sparked another round of uplifting and joyous enthusiasm known as Beetle Mania.
Today, the Beetle opens a new chapter in its remarkable story. The third generation of the internationally beloved Beetle is celebrating a transcontinental world debut simultaneously in Shanghai, Berlin and New York.
Updating an icon
Only someone who knows and respects the Beetle’s heritage could produce a new generation of this storied vehicle. The task for Volkswagen engineers was clear. They had to develop a modern interpretation of the Beetle, with all the benefits of today’s technologies and efficiencies, and the driving characteristics that define the Volkswagen brand. The result had to remain affordable and stay true to the Beetle’s spirit and great heritage.
The design of the new Beetle presented another challenge. How does one reinvent a look that is so recognizable and unique? Volkswagen Group Design Chief Walter de Silva and Volkswagen Brand Design Chief, Klaus Bischoff, welcomed the task and set an ambitious objective: “Design a new original!”
The designers wanted to develop the new car around the earliest Beetle profile rather than the 1998 New Beetle. They wanted a car that respects the past but looks toward the future. And that is what they created.
The 2012 Beetle is an automotive icon reinvented. Placing the original Beetle and the 21st Century Beetle next to one another, it’s clear that the lines of the rear sections are nearly identical, but the overall look is bolder and more dynamic. The Beetle also breaks free of the design geometry defined by three semi-circles (front wing, rear wing, domed roof above it).
"The Beetle is now characterized by a clean, self-confident and dominant sportiness. The car not only has a lower profile; it is also substantially wider, the front hood is longer, the front windshield is shifted further back and has a much steeper incline. All of this creates a new dynamism,” explains Klaus Bischoff.
The 2012 Beetle is 71.2 inches wide (3.3 inches wider), 58.5 inches tall (.5 inches lower) and 168.4 inches long (6 inches longer). The new focal point is the C-pillar. The development team also increased the car’s track widths and wheelbase. All of this gives the Beetle a powerful appearance with muscular tension.