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VW to End Production of Old Style Beetle

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BERLIN (AP) -- Volkswagen said Friday it will stop making the original rear-engined Beetle later this year, bringing the curtain down on the nearly 70-year history of the classic "bug."

Production of the last old Beetles at the VW plant in Puebla, Mexico, will "end this summer," spokesman Fred Baerbock said, adding that an exact date was not set.

He said there had been sinking demand for the original model, manufactured only in Puebla since 1978.

The first version of what would become known as the Beetle was developed in 1934 under the guidance of Adolf Hitler, who wanted to build a "people's car" -- or in German, a Volkswagen. It first entered mass production after World War II.

Over the decades, the VW became a favorite of both thrifty postwar Germans and 1960s American hippies before competition from Japanese compacts elbowed it aside.

Volkswagen sold more than 21 million of the cars over the decades, but says it produced less than 30,000 at Puebla last year.

Puebla will continue to produce the New Beetle sedan, a modernized successor to the cult car, which hit the market in 1998 and has a chassis based on the VW Golf.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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