New Beetle Premieres in Europe
Nov. 02, 1998
WOLFSBURG, Germany (AP) _ Volkswagen is introducing its new Beetle to the European market eight months after the retooled version of the 1960's classic debuted in the United States.
Volkswagen hopes the retro-looking new Beetle will help the company shed its image of building reliable, but staid, cars.
The reworked Beetle features a Golf engine, an electronic stabilization system and airbags _ and a flower-holder on the dashboard.
The new Beetle went on sale in the United States in March. Volkswagen says it sold over 40,000 cars from mid-March to the end of September in North America, including Canada and Mexico, where it is produced.
The company has received about 200,000 requests for the car from European customers, said Volkswagen spokesman Fred Baerbock. About half of those were in Germany.
Cars normally are bought in Germany after an order is placed with the dealer, rather than directly from a showroom, as in the United States. First deliveries are expected Nov. 27, although about 1,000 imports are already on the streets.
Volkswagen hopes the car will appeal to adults who drove it in the 1960's or '70's as students, said Baerbock.
``There is an emotional impact to the new Beetle, and that emotional reaction is strengthened by (interest in) the car's modern motor. It's a fun car, it's got zest for life,'' Baerbock said.
The car's world premiere was at the Detroit auto show in January, and its success also has boosted sales for Volkswagen's other models, Baerbock said.
The new Beetle's premiere is the latest in a series of launches of cars that emphasize economy of space or colorfulness, such as the tiny, brightly colored Smart Car, a joint venture between Daimler-Benz and the Swiss manufacturer of the Swatch wristwatch, Schweizerische Gesellschaft.
Last year, Daimler launched the egg-shaped A-class car, dubbed the Baby Benz because of its small size.