So I’ve been having a lot of interesting conversations with different people about the new 2012 Volkswagen Beetle and have been getting a lot of mixed feelings and reviews so I thought what better place to hash it out than in a blog entry? I went over the specs of a 2012 Beetle and the new 2012 Beetle (both 2.5 Hatchback) and to be honest besides the design and a couple of new technological features there wasn’t much of a difference between the models. The MPG mileage was pretty much the same 20-29 as it was in 2010. The price is still in the high $19,000 to the mid $20,000. Same 2.5L inline 5 cylinder engine. Same 14.5 gallon fuel tank in both models. The one big difference that might interest prospective buyer is the increase in power and decrease in overall weight. The 2010 model has a power of 150hp@5,000rpm ; 170flt lb of torque@3,750rpm while the 2012 model has a power of 170hp@5,700rpm ; 177ft lb of torque@4,250rpm. The weight has always changed from 3,248lbs to a much lighter 2,939lbs. That’s a whopping 309lb weight loss. But I had a lot of questions as to what VW’s push was to revamp the classic Beetle. I put together a list of questions trying to answer what the deal was to better understand the significant change.
1. Will the new 2012 Beetle lose Volkswagen enthusiasts?
After talking to people who know quite a bit about cars to those who aren’t as knowledgeable about them there was a vast array of responses that I had acquired about the new design. For die hard VW fans, it was a disappointment. Being a purist as well when it comes to cars I understand where these people are coming from. The classic bug is what they grew up with and what they love and it’s hard to just see VW change it out of the blue. Even those interested in buying a bug are looking into purchasing an older model so they can have what they’ve always wanted, the classic bug.
But the same can not be said about those who haven’t followed VW throughout the years. They see the new model as a refreshing change to an old design that they had grown weary of years before. They are considering giving the bug, and more importantly VW, another chance at their consumerism. But what was that age old business saying? It is cheaper to keep customers than to get them. But I’m not sure if VW has done enough to get these people through the doors of a VW dealership just because the new designs have caught their eye. Which leads me to my next question.
2. Will the new design revive the Bug in the current market? Is it meant to go up against the Mini Cooper and the Fiat 500?
You can’t deny that the new Bug resembles these two other smaller automobiles. When compared to the Mini Cooper the price range is the same but the new Beetle does have a bigger engine but is that enough? Plus when it comes to gas mileage the mini cooper is more gas efficient than the Beetle. And compared to the Fiat 500 which is cheaper and more gas efficient the only thing the new Bug has on it is the horsepower (and a bigger gas tank). But is that what people really want when they step into a new 2012 Beetle? More horsepower?
Let’s compare the sales stats for all 3 cars.
Mini Cooper sold 3,610 in March 2010 but that number rose to an outrageous 6,087 by March 2011 which is a 68.6% in sales.
Fiat 500, having started selling Fiats again in the US starting March 2011, sales went from 1,759 to 3,141 which is a 78% increase.
With the Beetle sales have been pretty substantial not including the 2011 sales when there was not a new model. In 2010 in January they sold 2,167 new 2010 Beetles where in January 2012 they have only sold 1,401 new 2012 Beetles which is substantially less. So sales dropped 35% instead of increasing.
3. Then who IS the target market for the new bug? the environmentally conscious? those who want to make a fashion statement? men? young people?
Gas mileage isn’t HORRIBLE but it is substantially less than cars like the Fiat 500 and the Toyota Prius so that can’t be it. Would buying the new Beetle say something about someone? People usually buy luxury cars or hybrid cars to voice who they are through their cars so that probably isn’t it either. I could be wrong but I’m not really sure what that statement would be. Maybe just buying new for new’s sake? So I guess that leaves the men and the young people. I guess they want more young men to buy their cars? It’s no surprise that most of the sales that VW does make of the Beetle is to women. Over 65% of sales ARE made to women but I guess by changing up the design to look more contemporary and adding a little more power under the hood is supposed to attract more male cliental. But will it work? Will men be able to overlook the label that has been attached to Beetle’s all these years? I mean even Barbie has a VW Beetle. It can’t get any more feminine than that. Mini Cooper and Fiat 500 have done a great job not marketing to one sex or another which has kept their sales rising throughout the US and overseas. They want the age group to be about 36 but will that happen? The new Beetle is at neither the SUPER MANLY extreme or the ENVIRONMENTALLY CONSCIOUS extreme. I guess for those who are okay with a mediocre car than this is the car for them? What stops them from buying the cars mentioned above or a nice Honda Accord or a Toyota Camry? Nothing.
4. Why couldn’t they have named it something else?
Car companies have made this mistake time after time. Making models that look nothing like previous models and ruining the name that has been attached to those cars. Sure, for those who have never seen an early 2000’s Chrysler 300 or a 1960’s Chevy Impala this means nothing to them. I’m not saying the early 300’s look better or anything like that, I’m just stating that with dramatic change, I think that requires a new name to accompany it. This way they can market the new car against the top sellers while also having the classic Beetle for those who want them. It’s not like sales were staggering to a stop when they decided to change the design.
5. More horsepower? Lighter weight? Possibly a new racing car?
It is geared towards men but could it be geared towards racers and those who own other VW automobiles? It’s no secret they use Minis and Fiats to race overseas but are they hoping that it will catch on? (Just not Herbie style? ) Would VW owners who own Jettas and GTI’s possibly consider getting a new Beetle when their model gets old? Most VW owners are pretty keen to their own models and types but could it be a possibility? But that would mean that over the years that VW would have to change the car even more to allow better handling and durability during races. Maybe an AMG, M, supercharged SRT8 Beetle? I don’t know, I’m just saying. Would people be at all interested in a faster Beetle? Most people I know don’t race their bugs but things may change in the next coming years.
6. Are people buying it for the updated technology?
I’m sure some people would contribute the new technological advances as to the reason for their purchase but cars are always coming out with updated versions of themselves. Even if the design hadn’t changed, the technology would have.
7. Have they possibly lost their selling point by changing the design?
Who didn’t grow up watching Herbie? (The original or the remake). Doesn’t it make you feel, even just for a second, that you could be in that car experiencing the same joys? All the product placement and advertisements selling the new Beetle. Everything from putting a flower vase in the front dashboard to having it in children’s movies like Coraline. We’ll just have to wait and see if people catch on with the new craze. I have seen two new bugs in the gym parking lot and I guess if I see the driver we’ll have some things to talk about but what makes this car different than others? What can this car do for me that others can not? Like I said, I know people who have grown up wanting a classic bug.
8. Do they need a younger customer base? Are their customers getting old? dying? unable to drive? Are they doing what Cadillac and Buick were unable to do?
I mean I guess 58 is an older mean age of the customers buying cars but they are buying them nonetheless. And they have been doing great throughout the years getting younger customers by marketing to them. Cadillac and Buick was too late on the bandwagon to change to meet the needs of the younger drivers but Volkswagen has not had that problem. They have always been on top of their target audience and market so was the change necessary? If they knew that sales from women would drop from over 65% to around 50% or less was it worth the risk? Throughout the years female drivers have been increasing in the US which means more female consumers in the car market.
9. Boost to not only raise sales in US but also Overseas?
As mentioned earlier Volkswagen is trying to raise their sales especially in the European territories. With movies and television promoting newer, smaller and more fuel efficient cars VW is trying to join in on the frenzy. With smaller streets and higher gas prices the Europeans are always looking for new and more effective ways from getting from point A to point B. Maybe the new Beetle offers a style that will be welcomed by our counterparts overseas? But gas mileage isn’t the best it could be and maybe MAYBE it is a little too big for easier maneuvering through the tricky roads? Who knows.
10. What are the incentives of buying a new 2012 VW Beetle?
I haven’t found anything that immediately catches my eye. There’s a higher resale value for the 2012 Beetle convertible? But that would mean that you are buying it to resell. More powertrain options? Rebates? Low APR? Maybe I’m not looking hard enough?
Well that was my overview on the new 2012 Volkswagen Beetle. Hopefully it got some people thinking and I’d love to hear what you guys think about it. Thanks!