- Volkswagen Beetles arrived in the U.S. in 1949.
- They gained tremendous popularity and triggered the public’s interest in small imports.
- Beetle sales were discontinued in the U.S. in 1979, mostly due to the impact of fuel emission regulations on performance
- In 1998, a fresh, new Beetle was re-introduced in the U.S.
Volkswagen arrived in the United States in 1949 when two Beetles were sold. Sales of sedans and a convertible, that was based on the sedan and had an unusually bulky top when folded, started slowly. In 1953 only 980 were registered. Volkswagen of America was incorporated as a factory subsidiary in 1955. By 1957 there were 350 Volkswagen dealers. There were 79,524 cars registered, and yet there was still an average waiting time of nine months for a car. Registrations reached 191,372 in 1960.
In late 1962, a new larger rear window replaced the previous small window in the convertible; taillights were far more visible and changed the appearance of the car’s rear. In 1964, registration of all Volkswagens had risen to 322,942. Beetles continued with a rear engine, rear drive and a four-speed manual transmission. Their appearance changed from the 1963 version with new, larger turn signal lamps on the front fenders.
Over the years Volkswagen constantly made modification to the cars sold world-wide. Sales of Beetles were discontinued in the United States in 1979, mostly due to the impact of fuel emission regulations on performance. Then in 1998, a fresh, new Beetle was introduced, sparking the interest of former fans and a new generation of buyers.