2012 is the year of the new, New Beetle. Longer, wider and with a flat roofline the new, New Beetle has a lower, sleeker persona. More cat like than beetle and without the rounded roof, some will argue it is not a beetle at all.
The New Beetle had a production run of twelve years or so beginning in 1998. It was basically a long term flop*, selling only 477 K units during that time. Moreover, this iteration was appealing to women mostly and to older ones at that. It never captured the youth market. In contrast, the real Beetle with a production run of 5 M units was on the market from 1949-79. It defined a generation both in America and worldwide.
So what's new in 2012 versus the New Beetle of yesteryear? Ta-da:
- 6.5 inches longer
- 3.3 inches wider
- 0.5 inches lower
- no more flower vase
- redesigned dashboard
- high end sound system by Fender
- keyless access
- large glass roof
- base horsepower 170
- more horsepower, up to 200 with turbo
- more fuel efficient turbo diesel with 140 horsepower
- flat roofline (not beetle-ish)
- smaller windows
- more stylish interior appointments
VW is trying to reach out to the male market. It well knows it sold two thirds of the New Beetles to women. Whether the male reach-out is possible remains to be seen. It is most difficult to "flip" a car's personality F->M. M->F is way easier**. No man wants to drive a lady's car. Once a vehicle is branded femme, there's only a slight chance of coming back to macho. It's possible, but... Femme fatale is at play.
Prices for the new New Beetle are still unpublished. Availability is expected in the Fall of 2011. The convertible is already well along in planning and there is word that there will be a diesel ragtop offering. Now that's interesting. What with the price of a gallon now over $4...
The hippies of the sixties are not going to carry the Beetle to the promised land. In all likelihood, the product is going to fail unless Volkswagen can capture the youth market. The time for going back to the nostalgia crowd has passed. For the most part, the people who loved the VW the first time around are too old and too disinterested to make a market. Unless the 2012 Beetle can successfully capture the male and youth markets, oh well. Kitsch, anything can turn to kitsch...
E cosi Va....
*In the initial few years the New Beetle was a good seller and it essentially saved VW from extinction. Like the Miata, the early NB sales were brisk, but the target market was quickly sated and sales, while decent, meandered after the first few years.
**Both the fattened late 70's and early 80's Corvettes and the boulevarded late 80's early 90's Nissan 300 Z's became chickified with little problem. Both marques had to work hard to get the male market re-interested.