Times really does fly. It seems like just yesterday (as the cliche goes - but it's no less true) that VW was "bringing back" the Beetle; I remember the unveiling at the NY Auto Show of the concept car... then my first test drive of a New Beetle press car. Hard to believe a decade (actually, close to 15 years now) has passed since then. (Damen - just think: You were about ten years old at the time!)

Here's the official VW release:

Volkswagen of America, Inc. celebrates the 10-year anniversary of the introduction of the New Beetle. Originally unveiled as a design study car called “Concept 1” at the North American International Auto Show in 1994, the New Beetle made its worldwide debut in 1998. Over the last decade the New Beetle has solidified its place in American pop culture, transcending consumers’ age, income, education and gender to connect classic Beetle enthusiasts with contemporary audiences.

“We are extremely proud to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the New Beetle, an iconic vehicle that has made a remarkable impact on automotive and pop culture history,” said Stefan Jacoby, President and CEO of Volkswagen of America, Inc. “The New Beetle is a true reflection of Volkswagen’s commitment to individuality, design and pure driving pleasure.”

Often referred to by its affectionate nickname, “The Bug,” the enthusiasm and nostalgia sparked by the introduction ten years ago continues to surround the New Beetle today. From the custom paint jobs to personalized modifications and from its fan clubs to its prosperous Hollywood film career, the New Beetle is an undeniable fixture in pop culture.
Although it borrowed general design cues from its classic predecessor, the New Beetle remains a completely contemporary creation. The New Beetle evolved to incorporate engineering advances including a redesigned chassis and a water-cooled front engine. With its sloping headlamps, large round tail lights and arched roofline, the vehicle features distinct styling. The New Beetle's iconic silhouette is now considered the most easily recognized profile in automotive history (J. D. Power and Associates).

Since its introduction, Volkswagen has continued to enhance the vehicle’s unique combination of innovative design and engineering to meet the changing needs of consumers. Since the New Beetle Sedan’s debut in 1998, Volkswagen has also launched a New Beetle Convertible model, featuring a three-layer cloth top with a heated glass rear window for year-round fun.

Volkswagen has also upgraded both the New Beetle Sedan and the New Beetle Convertible models with premium option packages, enhanced safety features, auxiliary center console iPod jack and redesigned interior aesthetics. The legendary “Inspiration Pod” is not just for flowers anymore; it’s encouraged to be used as a means of self-expression. The New Beetle’s exterior continues to match its playful silhouette, currently offered in a distinctly vibrant color palette including Laser Blue, Gecko Green, Salsa Red, Harvest Moon, Platinum Gray, Black, Reflex Silver and Sunflower Yellow.

The New Beetle Sedan and New Beetle Convertible remain strong sellers for the brand, with total U.S. sales exceeding 500,000 units as of April 2008. Since its introduction, over 1 million units have been produced worldwide.