A mere few weeks after a digital animation of an electric Volkswagen Beetle stirred the rumor mill about a real-life version, the CEO of the passenger cars business has said otherwise. Although the German automaker recently revived its classic Bus as a BEV with several other familiar VW nameplates to follow, the Beetle will remain exterminated for now.
Although it remains a household name in autos, Volkswagen Group sees itself claiming a much larger role in the future market landscape. Furthermore, the automaker has remained quite open about how it intends to do so by embracing electrification throughout its brands and electrifying most of its popular nameplates.
Volkswagen Cars, in particular, has found early success with its ID brand EVs and has already confirmed popular models like the Golf and GTI will be transitioned into their own BEV versions in the future. As a nod to its past, Volkswagen recently released the ID.Buzz based on the cult-classic VW buses (seen below).
The ID.Buzz was a project overseen by ex-Group CEO Herbert Diess, who was ousted last summer and replaced by Porsche CEO Oliver Blume. During his tenure, Diess helped dream up a reborn version of the Volkswagen Beetle as an electric vehicle to invoke a more “emotional” lineup.
Blume, however, is more interested in optimization and profitability than emotion, and Volkswagen Cars’ CEO Thomas Schäfer appears to be in the same camp, recently describing an electric Beetle as a “dead end” without ruling out its future entirely. Here’s the latest.
The electric Beetle will live on… as fantasy fiction
In a recent interview with AutocarVolkswagen Passenger Cars CEO Thomas Schäfer spoke to the brand’s future in EVs and its plans to bring certain nameplates (and abandon others) as it transitions into the all-electric era. Per Schäfer:
We’ve decided we’re not going to throw away the traditional, successful names that have carried us for so long, that we’ve invested in for so long, like Golf and Tiguan. Why would you let them go? Obviously we have a lot of names in our history, but there are only, I’d say, a little more than a handful that are really iconic and global. There are the typical ones, the Golf, the Tiguan… Would you do Scirocco or would you do Arteon? Probably not. That is part of our naming philosophy that we are now finalizing.
So the Golf and Tiguan are in, but the Scirocco and Arteon are probably out. Earlier this month, an animated version of an all-electric Beetle was showcased as the wheels for a superhero called Ladybug in the children’s Netflix movie Miraculous. We reported at the time that this could be a hint of Diess’ dream of “emotion” coming to fruition. However, when asked about the possibility of an all-electric Volkswagen Beetle making its way to market, Schäfer didn’t appear too optimistic:
I don’t think so, because there are certain vehicles that have had their day. It wouldn’t make sense to bring it back. I wouldn’t say with 100% [certainty]. But from where I stand now, I wouldn’t consider it. It’s the same as Scirocco: it had its day, then there was a new model based on a reinterpretation. To do that again? I don’t think so. And going forward with balancing all these technologies and the cost that is associated with it, you’ve got to invest money in the best possible place.
In the CEO’s defense, Volkswagen bugs aren’t exactly the most aerodynamic design, but alongside the Bus, the Beetle is easily the most recognizable vehicle the automaker has ever built and has a long history in pop culture. Still, the decision to curb nostalgia and focus on more viable EV conversion makes a lot of sense from a business standpoint, so fans of the Beetle may be waiting a lifetime to see an all-electric version.
Perhaps VW will make an eVTOL version, and we’ll eventually get to see an electric Beetle take flight. If that happens and they don’t call it a lightning bug, I’ll be pissed.
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