The third-generation Volkswagen Beetle went on sale in the U.S. in September 2011, and early on, sales absolutely rocketed.
That is, for 2012, when there was a full year of the new model, sales were up 351.1% compared to 2011. A total 29,174 Beetles were sold in 2012.
2013 was even better, when there were 43,134 Beetles sold in the U.S.
But last year. . .well, not so good. Sales were off 32.3%. It was back to almost exactly the 2012 number: 29,182.
Clearly, although the first-generation vehicle was almost timeless, having a run greater than half a century, now things go more quickly.
Which may explain why Volkswagen has developed four Beetle concepts, which it wouldn’t be at all surprising to see in production form in the future.
There’s the Pink Color Edition. A real car, not Barbie’s Dream Car. It has a Pink Metallic exterior with contrasting gray mirror housings and trim. Inside it is black, chrome, aluminum, and. . .pink.
There is the Beetle Convertible Denim. Volkswagen has been using denim for concept Beetles since the mid-1970s, when it unveiled the Jeans Bug. This is a truly blue car, with blue fabric for the convertible top and “Stonewashed Blue Metallic” paint for the exterior. The seats are a combination of dark and light blue, with white piping. There are denim-like pockets on the seats.
(Which leads to a somewhat related digression. People often wash their cars. This would undoubtedly be the case were someone to own a Beetle Convertible Denim. In a recent issue of Fortune magazine, Charles V. Bergh, CEO of Levi Strauss, wrote: “if the average American washed their jeans after every 10 times they wore them rather than every two times as they do today, it would decrease their energy and climate change impact by 80%, according to the life-cycle assessment study conducted by Industrial Ecology Consultants and Levi Strauss & Co.” Just imagine how much water would be saved by reducing car washes.)
Another convertible concept is the Beetle Convertible Wave. This is something of a throwback look. The exterior color is Habanero Orange Metallic with chrome wheels and mirror housings. But inside, there are hound’s-tooth fabric seat inserts. There is a surfboard-like wood dash pad. It’s all very early ‘60s chic.
Finally, there is a performance variant, perhaps trying to get some of the oxygen that is pumped into the Golf models in the VW lineup. This one is the Beetle R-Line concept. It is powered by a 217-hp, 2.0-liter, direct injected, turbocharged engine. It has bumpers with large air vents up front. It has high-gloss black molding along the sills. There is a rear defuser and a large rear spoiler. And the R-Line concept is even 0.6-inches wider than a standard Beetle.
Inside there are spot bucket seats and carbon fiber trim.
What are the odds we see at least one of these Beetles? Probably darn good.