When you update an iconic car, it's a win/lose proposition. Sure you win with the instant name recognition, but if you screw up the re-design you lose big time. Which brings up whether Volkswagen hit a home run, or struck out with the all new Beetle.
The 3rd generation bug is slightly lower to the ground, with a more pronounced hood that is longer, wheels pushed out to the corners and a well appointed, well-designed interior and instrument panel.
So what's the problem? Apparently, some people don't like the new car. After I unveiled the Beetle on "Squawk Box," I got this tweet, "New VW Beetle - What was @VW thinking? #Rhetorical Obviously they weren't. #DumbAndDumber."
Welcome to the challenge VW faces with the new Beetle. The company is wise to tap into the Beetle brand awareness. Heck, if it's gonna triple sales in the U.S. by 2018, it needs to pull out all the stops.
Volkswagen of America's CEO Jonathan Browning believes his company is winning over Americans little by little. He told me this morning, "We've got a lot going on already. We saw great momentum last year and increased business by 20%. We've seen 23% growth again in March. We see Jetta sales, which we launched at the end of last year, up by over 60%. So Jetta, Passat, Beetle and many other product have come into this market."
True, VW does have as much momentum now as it's had since the late 90's. The trick is building on that momentum and not screwing it up as the company has done time and again the last 20-25 years.
Personally, I think the new Beetle has a more updated look and decent enough mileage to bring buyers into VW showrooms. Will it be a home run? I don't think so. But it's a solid addition to a VW line-up sorely lacking in new models.
And for that Volkswagen gets kudos. It's updated the Beetle and brought a model to showrooms that will pique the interest of new car buyers. Not bad for the latest incarnation of a classic car.
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