By Ronan Glon
Wednesday, Mar 21st, 2012 @ 10:43 am
 
When Volkswagen launched the much-awaited New Beetle in 1998, it was almost immediately labeled as a car for women. This was largely due to its cute and round shape, as well as the fact that it came with a flower vase mounted on the dashboard.

Volkswagen tried everything to shake off the image: the New Beetle was available with a diesel engine, with a turbocharged gasoline engine, and the automaker's advertising department even tried putting an emphasis on some of the more manly colors that the car was available in.

None of the above worked and the New Beetle carried its "chick car" image until it was phased out of the Volkswagen lineup.

When the company's designers started working on the car's replacement, they focused on making the car more manly in order for it to appeal to a wider audience.

"One of the goals [with the new generation], obviously, was to potentially attract a more-balanced buyer group," said Tim Mahoney, VW's chief product and marketing officer in the U.S., in an interview. "We're seeing that happen."

A report published this morning in Bloomberg indicates that the German manufacturer has been successful in its quest to make the Beetle a people's car once again. Since the current generation of the car went on sale last September, 43% of buyers in the United States have been men, compared with 29% a year before that, when the New Beetle was still in Volkswagen showrooms.

According to Bloomberg, the trend can partially be attributed to how the car is advertised. TV spots talk about the optional turbocharged engine, and Volkswagen went as far as creating a video game for Microsoft's Xbox console that showcased the car.

The new car's design can also be credited for attracting more men buyers. It is not as cute as the old one was, and features sportier styling cues that are more likely to appeal to both men and women.

If the Beetle manages to not get slapped with a "chick car" badge early in its production run, it is a safe bet that it will remain a more popular car among men than its predecessor ever was throughout its entire career.