It is well known that Volkswagen, the people’s car of the 20th century, has run into some problems. A scandal broke lose when it was discovered that the friendly family brand had cheated on co2 emission tests, apparently with malicious intent. Havoc has been cried and the dogs of war let go.
The demise of Volkswagen has been seen in the depths of the magic eight ball; if they are not able to drastically turn it all around. This wondrous turn around has been proposed to stem from unprecedented investment and research into electricity, energy efficiency, renewable energy and state of the art technology to match the growing environmental demands. Thus, in one sense, Volkswagen’s scandal has been a good occurrence. There is an overwhelming amount of green technology available to the car industry. But the industry chooses not to use the technology because there is little incentive to take the risk. Tesla stands as a rare exception to this rule.
But by only considering new technology as a road to redemption, Volkswagen is overlooking what is perhaps the best solution to its problems: to reintroduce the Beetle. I do not talk about the ghastly attempt at modernising the Beetle which appeared around the change of the millennium. I am talking about the original vehicle; the car which by its very existence makes you a happier person when it drives by and that only an inherently sad person do not have affection for.
In the era of the vintage loving, debt accumulating, couchsurfing and urban Millennial, the car industry has already realised it will suffer. Millennials, unlike their parents and their parents before, don’t want cars. As cities have been modernised and public transportation developed, a car is no longer a status symbol indicating an easier life.
Implicitly, it is not a necessity for the urban dwelling Millennial. For the new generation, having a car can even be considered as signifying unhip priorities. Why would you have a car if that means you can no longer hitch-hike through Tajikistan? And even if some Millennials want cars, they won’t afford a modern car until the parental generation finally dies so the alleged ‘spoilt generation’ can get a paid job.
The Beetle, however, is a simple but a marvellous piece of vehicle. Without the excess of the modern vehicle, the Beetle fulfils what the vintage loving, smartphone using and cappuccino drinking Millennial wants: stylish utility in a subtle package. But the Beetle also offers another thing the Millennial craves: experiences.
The very character of the Beetle invokes images of road trips along deserted country roads; camping at the beach with only the sunset as spectator; and bonfires in the brisk autumn air. The Beetle is not meant to symbolise status or serve as a mule, the Beetle is the wheeled embodiment of adventure and delight. As a result, the return of the Beetle will also be the return of Volkswagen.
To remind you about the splendour which once adorned every street, Peru has volunteered as a showroom, having a density of Beetles which is difficult to imagine.
All photos are taken and owned by Henrik Frellumstad Jenssen.