DETROIT - Almost from the moment the New Beetle debuted in the United States in 1998, Volkswagen of America Inc. has been bombarded with requests for a convertible version. It will offer one in calendar 2002.
Jens Neumann, Volkswagen AG board member for North America, said at the North American International Auto Show that the carmaker will develop a convertible New Beetle in conjunction with Wilhelm Kharmann GmbH, of Osnabruck, Germany.
The convertible most likely will be assembled in Volkswagen's plant in Puebla, Mexico, Neumann said.
Volkswagen and Karmann have had 50 years of design and production cooperation, resulting in such cars as the original Beetle Cabriolet, the Karmann Ghia and the Scirocco Coupe.
Neumann said he could not get any more specific other than the 2002 calendar year.
'We're working as quickly as possible, because we know there is desire out there in the marketplace,' Neumann said. 'We want to keep bringing new and exciting things for the New Beetle.'
To keep interest strong, Volkswagen has added orange this year to the available colors for the New Beetle.
At the Los Angeles auto show earlier this month, the automaker unveiled its Volkswagen Dune concept, harking back to the dune buggy craze of the 1960s. It is a New Beetle with a 150-hp, 2.3-liter V-5 engine and all-wheel-drive system VW calls 4Motion.
The Dune is an interpretation of what is possible in an all-wheel-drive New Beetle, Neumann said.
Now, with a convertible on the way, the New Beetle will continue to be 'fresh and alive' in the marketplace, he said.