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Men Are Finally Buying Into Beetle-Mania

A more masculine stance and a marketing campaign targeting men are paying off for Volkswagen.

By Claire_Martin Mar 21, 2012 10:37AM
Volkswagen Beetle Photo by VolkswagenBack in 1998, when Volkswagen reintroduced its iconic Beetle, sorority girls and hip grandmas alike were clamoring to get behind the wheel and decorate the dashboard bud vase with their favorite bloom. But the cutest car on the road didn't lure in many male buyers -- until now. 

This year's Beetle was redesigned to be sporty and masculine rather than cute and whimsical. Gone is the bud vase and the bubble-shaped top. Instead, the car features an elongated hood, bigger tires and square bumpers that hark back to the original Beetle design. The result is a more aerodynamic, aggressive-looking stance. The new Beetle also has a higher-end sound system and a turbocharged model, and VW says it's planning to offer a diesel version, noting that 70 percent of its current diesel vehicles are purchased by men. A video-game marketing tie-in with Xbox, most of whose players are male, rounded out the carmaker's efforts to attract men.

The macho makeover is working out for VW so far, according to Bloomberg: Since the new Beetle became available in September, the car has seen a 14 percent jump in male buyers, and in December, men were responsible for a full 50 percent of sales.

The strategy is part of the company's drive to more than double its U.S. sales from 444,200 last year to 1 million in 2018. Considering the Beetle is the type of model that lures customers into dealerships who often go on to buy other models, the redesign serves a broader purpose. "One of the goals, obviously, was to potentially attract a more balanced buyer group," Tim Mahoney, chief product and marketing officer for VW in the U.S., told Bloomberg. "We're seeing that happen." 

But will female drivers be turned off by the beefed-up Beetle? Not necessarily, one industry expert says. "Girls don't mind driving masculine cars," Jessica Caldwell of told Bloomberg. And to be sure, even with the redesign, the Beetle still isn't one of the most macho rides on the road.

"They've done some improvements in the styling of the vehicle that made it slightly less feminine, but Beetle remains a more feminine design," said Jesse Toprak of "You don't want to alienate your core buying group."
Mar 24, 2012 1:20AM
I have been fortunate to own 2 Beetles. The first a granny smith apple green one a 1975. Now, i scoot around in a 1974 model which i love even more, since we appeared on earth in that year. The newer ones are fine, I reckon. Still the "old school" ones have more soul in their rusty floorboards, tinny exhaust sounds, and overall quirkiness than the overly polished front engine ancestors can ever have. The older ones survived a few Disney movies, being linked to Hitler, and being dubbed "unsafe at any speed" by Ralph Nader.  Whenever I see one of the new ones on the road, i just have to smile.
                           Have fun with those newer ones,
                           guess I am just old enough to love the simplicity of the "real" ones.

Mar 24, 2012 1:14PM
I'll keep my 1972 Beetle. 40 years old and still going strong. At least when I open the hood, I recognize all the parts and can do most of the service on it myself.
Mar 24, 2012 12:58AM
Having purchased five brand new american made cars in the last 12 years, I have had four recalls on all minor issues I probably could have let slide and no major problems. All have been great vehicles. My wife purchased the ame number of foreign cars had nine recalls and all had to go back to dealer within a month of purchase to have things fixed. Two transmissions, an oil leak, ignition and shifter problems got her stranded and brake and wheel problems. Times have changed.
Mar 24, 2012 10:29AM
Mar 24, 2012 6:21AM
In 60s and 70s there were very few female drivers. Beatles were mostly driven by men. I suppose movie  Herby goes Banana made a hit.
Mar 24, 2012 5:31AM
 girls will look a lot better driving the VW than something totally dull.... like a RAV4 or a CRV......
Mar 22, 2012 8:37AM
The new Beetle is definitely a nicer looking car, and far less 'cute'. I don't need to bolster my feelings of manliness with my choice of car, and would consider it if the mileage didn't suck.
Mar 24, 2012 1:14PM
Like the aircooled ones from back in the day,  Drive a subaru now since 94. What i wouldnt  give for a 60s rag top.  Cars come and go pickups are for ever!
Mar 24, 2012 2:09PM
If they really want to redesign the bug they need to bring back the simplicity of the original bug.  The reason it was so popular was the rear air cooled engine rarely overheated(yes an air-cooled bug can overheat), was very reliable if properly maintained and was CHEAP.   Besides Baja Bugs were the original off-road vehicles.  Try doing that with a new beetle.
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