New New Beetles from Mexico: Not Yet
Nobody really knows what the New New Beetle will look like, and VW’s U.S. honcho, Stefan Jacoby, will only say that it will have more rear legroom and be “more of a ‘halo car’” for the brand (whatever that is). It’s supposed to arrive in 2012. Like the present car, the NNB will be based on the Golf platform and built at the Puebla, Mexico, plant, which last summer got a $1 billion investment from the company.
The design is apparently not yet fixed, though several concepts have been floating around the Internet. We show you the Rangester concept here. Another report says the NNB will be “heavily influenced” by VW’s Up! concept (below right). This site, Autotropolis, quotes Jacoby to the effect that “the Beetle and the car’s ‘emotional fabric’ still hold a great opportunity deal of potential [sic] in terms of design and sales.” That emotional fabric, of course, can be special ordered for seats and matching headliner.
The NB went into production in 1998, sales peaked the next year at 83,434, and last year only 26,477 were sold. I owned a ’99 turbo and thought that, despite the stupid bud vase, it was not in the least a chick car, as many have charged. The design was and is extraordinary, and VW will be hard pressed to match it. The efforts shown here just don’t do that, IMHO.
Two other items of note from Mexico: One, AP Canada reports that Mexican auto production is up 9 percent from August to September this year, which gives hope for recovery, especially since this is the third consecutive positive month. The government has pledged help to avoid layoffs, but the industry is still very much in trouble. It’s worth noting that
Mexico is the world’s No. 10 car maker. The industry has grown over the past decade to become the country’s largest single manufacturing sector.
Finally, everybody in Mexico hates the ubiquitous speed bumps (topes, in Spanish) and their disastrous effects on cars. A company called Decano Industries is developing a “smart” speed bump that senses the vehicle’s impact, hence speed, and collapses if the car isn’t speeding. Not a bad idea and not that expensive, according to egmcartech. Having lived here a while, I can be allowed some skepticism that the government will be “smart” enough or rich enough (there are thousands of topes everywhere in Mexico) to solve this problem, which is likely not one of its top priorities.
Let us know what you think of the New New Beetle designs (still concepts at this point). Would you buy one?