If Europeans are as passionate about the New Beetle as American consumers, Volkswagen AG will build the car in Wolfsburg, Germany.
And to keep feeding the fervor in the United States, Volkswagen is developing a New Beetle Cabrio - that is, a convertible.
Beetlemania swept across the United States last year when the New Beetle went on sale in March. Many initial customers were willing to pay thousands of dollars over the suggested retail price.
The New Beetle went on sale in Europe Dec. 5, so it is too early to tell whether Volkswagen needs to build them in Wolfsburg, said Jens Neumann, Volkswagen AG's chairman for the North American region.
A decision will be made by the end of June, he said.
The New Beetle is built now exclusively in Volkswagen's assembly plant in Puebla, Mexico. Volkswagen can increase capacity in Mexico from the present 600 New Beetles a day to 800, Neumann said.
'If there were a big success in Europe, then we would start doing something in Wolfsburg,' Neumann said, during an interview with Automotive News. 'I'm relatively optimistic that Europe will be the same Beetlemania as in the states,' he said.
Volkswagen of America sold 55,842 New Beetles in the United States during 1998. The New Beetle was voted the 1999 North American Car of the Year at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
In 1998, Volkswagen sold 219,679 new cars in the United States, up 59.3 percent over 1997.
Neumann said a broader range of customers is coming into VW dealerships.
'In the beginning it was the enthusiasts, those who said, 'I want it now, I want it quick.' And now people realize it's a really great car, and not a toy,' he said. 'So it is not as hot any more, but it is broader.'
Customers realize that the New Beetle fits both their emotional and mobility needs, Neumann said.
As Americans continue snapping up New Beetles, they also have been calling for a convertible version of the new Bug.
'We're working on a New Beetle Cabrio,' Neumann said. 'It would be strange not to develop a car that is desperately called for in the marketplace. The customers scream for it.'
But the convertible must satisfy all Volkswagen's standards, so its development is not as simple as just cutting off the roof, he said. The New Beetle Cabrio probably will not be ready until after the 2000 calendar year, Neumann said.