Volkswagen has increased the mix of male buyers for the new 2012 VW Beetle by more than 48 percent over the old New Beetle, as men now account for some 43 percent of all U.S. Bug buyers; that’s up from a mark of 29 percent posted at the same time last year with the previous model. That’s according to the financial analysts at Bloomberg, who recently checked in with Volkswagen to see how well the company is doing in its quest to double U.S. sales by 2018. And it’s the sales story—not a sudden streak of misogyny—that’s driving the new focus on male buyers.
(A quick clarification: The “New Beetle” was the name of the model that was sold in the U.S. from 1998 through 2011. The vehicle introduced late last year is officially known once again as just the “Beetle.”)
The bottom line here is that, for Volkswagen to meet its sales goal, it has to attract all kinds of customers to all members of its lineup, something the previous-generation Beetle could never accomplish. The iconic Bug was never exactly the most macho vehicle on the planet, but the prior version started garnering a particularly “feminine” market position almost as soon as the first flower vase appeared on its dash. In fact, according to Bloomberg, which cited data from Edmunds, the New Beetle had the third-highest mix of female purchasers last year in the United States.
Now, some folks may recall that that car did feature advertising efforts tailored for the traditional male buyers, including one that showed the New Beetle tearing up a Pro Rally circuit. And there were turbocharged and sport-tuned variants available, as well as a limited-edition New Beetle RSi that extricated more than 220 hp from one of VW’s VR6 six-cylinder engines. But nothing was ever able to change customer perceptions of the vehicle as a source of flower power instead of horsepower.