December 29, 2005
If you ever needed a sign of whether a country has made it past merely feeding its middle class, look at where the Volkswagen Beetle is sold.
I don’t mean the Käfer or Fusca or Coccinelle, but the New Beetle, the fashion icon based on the old Golf platform.
It’s more antiquated than the Golf, has less room than the Golf, costs more than the Golf and is less practical than the Golf.
But when you have enough buyers for it who like a car for its charm and fashion statement (even though I thought it was démodé from the start—how can you glamourize something that came out of Third Reich policy?), and begin looking at emotive reasons for buying something (let’s face it, most of us in the west do), then life is no longer about merely surviving till the next day.
The auto industry in that country is no longer about creating vehicles for mass mobilization like the Fiat 500 (Topolino and Bambina) or the Subaru 360.
The latest country to join the New Beetle ranks is India, which gets the bug “unveiled” next month at its Auto Expo. Volkswagen is denying that it will sell the New Beetle, this time with a 2·5 litre engine, but you don’t bring cars to shows to whet appetites if you have no intention of selling them—at least not like this. If showcasing were the sole motive, Volkswagen of India could have done that in the late 1990s or early 2000s.
The Passat, Phaeton and Touareg will also be shown—highly expensive cars for the everyday Maruti buyer, but the market is there for these vehicles, albeit as limited imports.
I realize that there are Mercedes and BMWs in a lot of places in India, and the Merc W124 was even built there at one point, but even they serve a purpose (of status) without sacriﬁcing a level of practicality. But the Beetle is, as far as I can tell, the most impractical little mass-marketed toy on which one can waste money and get appalling value—at least there it convincingly diverges from the original Hitler KdF-Wagen concept. permalink
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Update: even Bugatti is scheduled to make an appearance in India, reports Rediff. India is ‘on track to becoming the third largest car market’.
i love the new version of the 500..have you seen it? they have made revive the older one..it's very stylish..take a look at the official website: www.fiat500.comPost a Comment
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