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Volkswagen’s Emotional Beetle Send-Off Video Is Fitting for an Icon

We're not crying, you're crying.

Over its 81-year and nearly 23-million-unit production run, the Volkswagen Beetle changed countless lives. It mobilized the populaces of countries from Europe to South America, and in regions such as Mexico, as many as 80 percent of families are believed to have owned one. Beetles have been present for—or integral to—pivotal moments of so many lives that to lay the nameplate to rest without a proper goodbye would be a crime, and on the eve of the new decade, Volkswagen finally released its video obituary to the automotive icon that was the Beetle.

Animated by ad agency Johannes Leonardo, and scored with a cover of The Beatles single Let It Be by the Pro Musica Youth Chorus, “The Last Mile” chronicles the life of a man to whom a Beetle was always family. From youth to old age, the Beetle accompanies the film’s protagonist; a backdrop to the milestones of falling in love, becoming a parent, and of course, waving farewell to the Beetle. See if you can spot the handful of cheeky pop cultural references Volkswagen snuck into the film—we’ll leave you with the hints Footloose and Andy Warhol.

Not only does The Last Mile encapsulate many thousands (or millions) of people’s relationships with their beloved Beetles, it does an honorable job of recreating the atmosphere of the Beetle’s discontinuation ceremony, which The Drive attended on July 10, 2019 in Puebla, Mexico. In mixing reverence for the Beetle with a tender cover of the classic Beatles (we see what you did there, VW) track, the video strikes a bittersweet note similar to that felt when the final Beetle rolled from the production line in July. The ceremony was as the film is; a celebration of the Beetle’s incalculably great impact on humanity, and an optimistic look toward Volkswagen’s future, but at the same time an inescapable reminder that something significant is over.

Volkswagen may march on to bigger and better things in the 2020s, but that doesn’t diminish the Beetle’s role in shaping the history of transportation, and by extension, humanity. See you on the other side, old friend.

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