New Volkswagen prices 2012 Beetle same as old one : Hoping to continue sales gains it began with the redesigned Jetta this year, Volkswagen says the bigger, more powerful 2012 Beetle will start at the same $19,765 as the outgoing model.
When the 2012 goes on sale this fall, VW expects improved mileage ratings, too, forecasting a best of 22 miles per gallon in town and 31 highway for the gasoline model vs. a best of 20/29 for the old one.
But that's still short of some recently introduced small cars priced less: the 2011 Hyundai Elantra is rated 29/40 mpg, the 2012 Honda Civic is 28/39 mpg and the 2012 Ford Focus is 28/38 mpg, all with automatic transmissions.
"The compact car segment is much more competitive than when the New Beetle launched in the late 1990s," and the 2012 Beetle — "New" has been dropped — will have to lure buyers by emphasizing other attributes, notes Edmunds.com senior analyst Jessica Caldwell.
Styling, of course, is a key one.
"People buy it for fashion," says industry analyst Jesse Toprak at TrueCar.com, a consumer car-pricing and research site. The mileage, he says, "is good enough for the Beetle."
A bigger challenge, Toprak says, is selling the Beetle to men:
TrueCar.com data show women were registered owners of 60.6% of New Beetles sold in 2010 and 56.1% in 2009. "It is the most female-oriented car on the market," he says. Nissan Rogue was second both years, at 56.3% and 53.5% female owners.
VW says it expects the 2012's styling to draw more men. But Toprak says a version exhibited at the New York auto show in April "still looked 'girly' to me."
Industry experience has been that women will buy cars that appeal to men, but men won't buy cars identified mainly with women. That cuts the pool of potential buyers. VW's ambitious plan to triple sales in the U.S. envisions bigger, not smaller, pools of buyers for each new model.
Beetle, once a unique retro-car, now must compete with the similarly conceived, but costlier BMW's Mini Cooper ($20,100 to start) and Chrysler Group's new and cheaper Fiat 500 ($16,000 base). All evoke icons of their brands' past.
Unlike the outgoing Beetle, the new one has multiple power choices:
The 2012 Beetle base model has a 2.5-liter, five-cylinder rated 170 horsepower. The sport version, $24,165 TSI, has a 2-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder rated 200 hp. A 140-hp diesel, not yet priced, is planned for 2013 and will be rated 40 mpg highway.
A 2013 convertible also is due.
The old model, built in Mexico, was discontinued after 2010. The 2012 will continue to be built in Mexico.