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Volkswagen Beetle to be axed in Australia

The love bug is gone: Volkswagen Beetle is dead in Australia.

VW plans to drop the Beetle from local showrooms after sales hit reverse for three years in a row.

The love bug is dead in Australia.

Volkswagen plans to drop the iconic Beetle from its local line-up later this year because sales have slowed to a crawl.

Deliveries have been cut by half each year since the latest model went on sale three years ago, after failing to repeat the success of the reborn Beetle launched in 2000.

While the Beetle will continue to be sold overseas, a confidential bulletin to Volkswagen dealers in Australia said there will be one final batch of limited edition models.

Volkswagen said the final “Classic” edition of the Beetle would come with no options and be available only in one colour, which is yet to be announced.

Remaining VW Beetles in showroom stock won’t be replaced.

Rest assured, the current Beetle will get the send-off it deserves.

Despite the addition of an engine with both turbocharged and supercharged power in 2013, the latest Volkswagen Beetle, which costs from $35,000, has not been able to match the success of other “retro” cars designed to look like their 1960s originals.

Sales of the Mini Cooper and Fiat 500 were about 10 times higher than the Volkswagen Beetle last year, according to figures from the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries.

Volkswagen sold just 240 Beetles in Australia in 2015 compared with 2600 Mini Cooper hatchbacks and 2200 Fiat 500 city cars.

In February Volkswagen sold just 21 Beetles, making it one of the company’s slowest selling passenger cars.

“The Beetle has become a niche model in Australia, and we plan to phase out the current generation later in the year,” said Volkswagen Australian spokesman Kurt McGuiness.

“We are planning to bid farewell to the current Beetle in Australia with a limited-run special model. Rest assured, the current Beetle will get the send-off it deserves.”

Veteran car historian and collector Ray Black, who owns three classic Volkswagens, says he is “sad but not surprised” the new Beetle will be phased out in Australia.

“Volkswagen traded on the romance and the affection for the original, but it just wasn’t as clever or as practical as the classic Beetle,” said Mr Black.

Volkswagen has sold just 1500 examples of the latest model over the past three years -- almost 9000 reborn Beetles found homes in Australia between 2000 and 2011.

More than 21.5 million original Volkswagen Beetles were made worldwide between 1938 and 2003 -- including approximately 260,000 assembled in Australia from 1954 to 1976.

According to Volkswagen historians, in 1961 the Volkswagen Beetle was the second most popular car on Australian roads behind Holden and ahead of Ford.

Today, immaculate examples of original Volkswagen Beetles can fetch up to $15,000.

However, a record $US126,500 ($173,000 at today’s exchange rates) was paid for one of the Beetles from the “Herbie” movie series at auction in the US in April 2015.

Will you miss the new Beetle when it disappears from showrooms, or are you more of a fan of the earlier models? Tell us what you think in the comments below.