Case Study, Design, Designers

The Beetle by Walter de Silva

The original is back. The Beetle!

Take a seat, start the engine, and be astonished. Beetle of a new era focuses fully on dynamics

Volkswagen launched a new Beetle into the market. And this is anything but a commonplace event in the automotive world. That is because the original model of this car series – the Beetle – is one of the three most successful cars ever, with 21.5 million units sold. Now, the successor to these icons is making its way to the market.

Beetle shaped people’s consciousness

The Beetle has always held a special place in people’s hearts. Over the years, it has shaped people’s collective consciousness. Children painted a Beetle when they painted a car. Americans bought a Beetle when they bought a Volkswagen. Germans drove a Beetle when they drove the Economic Wonder of the 1950s. Europeans chose “Made in Germany” when they chose a Beetle. South Americans were excited about a Beetle, when they were excited about an extremely rugged car built on their continent.

New Beetle produced a car cult

Then the New Beetle debuted in the late 1990s. It brought with it Beetle Mania and a new automotive exuberance. Americans were excited about it, and Europeans too. The original Beetle wrote history as the car that moved the masses; the New Beetle offered a certain lifestyle, and it sold over one million units – alongside the Golf, which had long taken over the job of the original Beetle and became the most successful car in the world! By the dawn of the new millennium, it had become clear: the classic car, whether a Beetle or New Beetle, and whether it was from the 1950s, 60s, 70s, 80s or 90s, had become a cult car. Furthermore: the various generations of the Beetle aka Beetle aka New Beetle reflected what is certainly the most recognisable automotive design in the world – a design that continues to win over the hearts of people of all generations.

Beetle of the year 2011 as the icon of a new era

Those who want to drive a car that shows emotions, offers dynamic performance, and yet provides lots of space – and as number 1 in the car pool masters everyday tasks and long journeys – will in the future think of the Beetle. This should be noted straight away, because dynamic performance alone no longer suffices: at 4.3 l/100 km (European 1.6 TDI) and 33 mpg (American 2.0 TDI), the new car is the most fuel-efficient Beetle ever.

Design of the original, re-interpreted

Coke bottle, iPhone, Ray Ban Aviator, Leica M9, Beetle – how do you reinvent a design that is so recognisable and independent? There is a clear answer to this: you can only do it if you understand the product and the brand. Volkswagen Design Chief Walter de Silva (Group) and Klaus Bischoff (Volkswagen Brand) “understand” both, and therefore they set this as the objective for the Beetle: “Design a new original!” And that is how the design of the 2011 Beetle came to be in Wolfsburg – a car of today as well as a design tribute to the automotive seed of an entire corporate group. And unmistakable indeed: If one were to take the first Beetle and the new Beetle and place them together – shining light just over the roofs and viewing them from the side – one would see that the lines of the rear sections are nearly identical.

Entirely new proportions

The figures confirm this: the new one is 1,808 mm wide (84 mm wider), 1,486 mm high (12 mm lower) and 4,278 mm long (152 mm longer). This has resulted in entirely new proportions. The gain in length means that the roof could be extended further, the front windscreen could be shifted back, and the rear section could follow the contour of the original Beetle. The new focal point is the C-pillar. In parallel, the development team increased the car’s track widths (front: 1,578 mm with gain of 63 mm; rear: 1,544 mm with gain 49 mm) and wheelbase (2,537 mm with gain of 22 mm). All of this gives the Beetle a powerful appearance with muscular tension.

Power range: 77 kW / 105 PS to 147 kW / 200 PS

Engine specifications: Petrol engines: TSI (petrol direct injection engines, except 2.5-litre engine for USA). Diesel: TDI (common rail engines). All EU engines fulfil Euro-5 emissions standard; all US engines fulfil BIN5 / ULEV PZEV

Debut of original Beetle: 1938

Debut of New Beetle: 1998

Total units built to date: > 22.5 million

Designers: Walter de Silva (Group), Klaus Bischoff (Brand). Exterior: Marc Lichte (team leader), Chris Lesmana, Nisan Kucam. Interior: Tomasz Bachorski (team leader), Ingo Brückmann. Colour and Trim: Oona Scheepers (team leader), Susanne Gerken

Dimensions: 4,278 mm length, 1,808 mm width, 1,486 mm height, 2,537 mm wheelbase, 310 to 905 litres cargo capacity

About Zoran Opalic

Professional in design and publishing industry. Conceptualize and orchestrate designs and redesigns that effectively reinforce and build brand images. Proven ability to drive record-high campaign in increasing publication sales and execute successful product launches...


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