Detroit — Volkswagen (VW) said on Thursday it would stop producing its Beetle compact car in 2019, ending a model that looked backward to the 1960s counterculture, as the car maker prepares for a leap toward a future of mass-market electric cars. The original VW Beetle, developed in the 1930s, made a journey from a product identified with Adolf Hitler to a symbol of Germany’s rebirth as a democratic, industrial powerhouse after World War Two. In the 1960s, the Beetle was a small-is-beautiful icon of the post-war baby boom generation. VW discontinued US sales of the "bug" in 1979, but continued production for Mexico and Latin America. In the mid-1990s, at a time when VW was struggling to rekindle sales in the US, then CEO Ferdinand Piech pushed to revive and modernise the distinctive Beetle design pioneered by his grandfather, Ferdinand Porsche. The result was a crescent-shaped car called the "new Beetle," launched in 1998, which offered playful touches such as a built-in flower vase...

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