Currently reading: Volkswagen CEO rules out Beetle revival as retro is "a dead end"
Volkswagen Golf, Passat and Tiguan due EV comeback, but ID Buzz is as retrospective as VW will go

Volkswagen CEO Thomas Schäfer has ruled out reviving the Beetle for the electric age, telling Autocar that while certain nameplates will continue to play an important role in the brand’s future line-up, it is important to look ahead rather than backwards. 

The future of Volkswagen's longest-running nameplates has been a hot topic in recent months, since Schäfer previously told Autocar that the Golf and GTI nameplates would be likely to continue in an all-electric line-up, and he has now suggested several other storied names are tipped to survive the transition from combustion to EV power. 

Speaking to Autocar at the pre-production test drive for the upcoming third-generation Volkswagen Tiguan, Schäfer emphasised the importance of certain current model names: “We've decided we're not going to throw away the traditional, successful names that have carried us for so long, that we've invested in for so long, like Golf and Tiguan. Why would you let them go?”

On the subject of what qualifies a nameplate to be significant enough for an electric revival, Schäfer suggested it hinges largely on the model’s worldwide significance: "Obviously we have a lot of names in our history, but there are only, I'd say, a little more than a handful that are really iconic and global. There are the typical ones, the Golf, the Tiguan… Would you do Scirocco or would you do Arteon? Probably not. That is part of our naming philosophy that we are now finalising."

1974 Volkswagen beetle 1303 front three quarters

Asked if the Volkswagen Beetle – one of the company's (and, indeed, the world’s) longest-serving nameplates – could make a comeback based on this strict criteria, he was categoric: "I don't think so, because there are certain vehicles that have had their day. It wouldn't make sense to bring it back.

"I wouldn't say with 100% [certainty]. But from where I stand now, I wouldn't consider it. It's the same as Scirocco: it had its day, then there was a new model based on a reinterpretation. To do that again? I don't think so. And going forward with balancing all these technologies and the cost that is associated with it, you've got to invest money in the best possible place."


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Schäfer’s comments came as Volkswagen revealed a computer-generated electric Beetle concept designed for the appropriately named superhero Ladybug, star of upcoming animated children’s movie Miraculous. 



The Volkswagen Beetle was earlier mooted for revival as a four-door electric hatchback as part of ex-CEO Herbert Diess's plan to introduce more "emotional" cars to the VW line-up, in the vein of the ID Buzz.

The Volkswagen ID Buzz nods heavily to the company’s heritage – more precisely it is inspired by the legendary Type 2 van from the 1950s – but does not represent a desire to continue down the retro path with similar ‘revivals’, according to Schäfer, who said playing up to nostalgia “would be a dead end”.

He continued: “The brand always has to reinvent itself and bring out new things. It's similar to when the Beetle's time was over and the Golf came in. You've got to bring new models, but at the same time optimise existing ones.

"We are proud of our heritage; there's nothing wrong with that. And when you look back, it is something to be proud of. But it's not what only defines us.”

2018 Volkswagen beetle side at the beach

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He said that while some of the brand’s more recent nameplates are tipped to make a comeback, a name can only return if the new model adheres rigidly to the spirit of its namesake: "If you call something a Golf or Passat or Tiguan, it has to have the genes of the vehicle - you cannot just call it something if it's not the same substance. 

"There are examples in the auto industry at the moment where someone has taken a classic name and then put it on a car that's not at all what it is… But I'm not mentioning names."

Felix Page

Felix Page
Title: Deputy editor

Felix is Autocar's deputy editor, responsible for leading the brand's agenda-shaping coverage across all facets of the global automotive industry - both in print and online.

He has interviewed the most powerful and widely respected people in motoring, covered the reveals and launches of today's most important cars, and broken some of the biggest automotive stories of the last few years. 

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FastRenaultFan 26 June 2023
The one car that VW had that they got right that was more than just a boring Box on wheels like all other VWs and he chickens out.
An electric Beetle would be brilliant but I guess VW just want to be the most boring car brand on the planet.
rmcondo 26 June 2023

Of course, he could turn out to be an idiot. Might look, to some, to be an appealing and modern design, somewhat related to a modern Porsche.

Guy08 26 June 2023

He must be talking about the Renault Espace!