Will the force be with VW again at Super Bowl time?

Christina Rogers covers safety, regulation and Volkswagen AG for Automotive News

Volkswagen of America is making its advertising return to the Super Bowl in February for the third straight year, this time with a 60-second spot for the all-new 2012 Beetle.

The German carmaker is still racking up YouTube hits for last year's commercial success: a spot for the 2012 Passat in which a pint-sized Darth Vader is fooled into believing he has ignition-turning powers.

The commercial, called "The Force," was one of two 30-second VW spots to debut during last year's game, and it has since racked up 45 million YouTube views. The ad has helped give VW's newest mid-sized sedan a nice sales bump, the company said.

The all-new Passat, built at VW's new plant in Chattanooga, Tenn., went on sale in September. The VW brand's U.S. sales were up 25 percent through November.

Now, VW is hoping to recreate its success.

Last year, it teased Super Bowl viewers with a silhouette of the 2012 Beetle, giving them only a sneak peek of the redesigned classic, which also went on sale in September.

On Feb. 5, it will give viewers another Beetle offering -- this one showing a little more skin.