The iconic Volkswagen Beetle - known as the "Bug" - has apparently long been regarded as a girlie car, with sales skewed heavily towards women. But VW's rollout last September of the manlier version - fewer curves, more angles - has had, you could say, a Viagra affect. Sales to men are up. Way up.
Men have accounted for 43 percent of sales in the U.S. since the introduction, a significant spike from their earlier 29 percent portion, according to a great read by Bloomberg's Tim Higgins today. In the month of December, the split was 50/50, compared to 36 percent for men in December 2010.
It's no accident. "Volkswagen, seeking to double U.S. sales by 2018, doesn't want to alienate half the potential buyers for such an important model," the article notes. "Persuading men that it's cool to drive the Beetle has been a challenge since Volkswagen brought it back to showrooms in 1998."
Okay, so won't the Bug's new muscles now risk losing the babes? Apparently not - you see, women are more open-minded about these things.
"Girls don't mind driving masculine cars; I don't think it works the other way around," Edmunds.com industry analyst Jessica Caldwell says in the story. "Once a car is labeled a chick's car, a lot of guys don't feel comfortable driving it."
Other macho touches in the new version: VW chopped the cute flower from the dashboard, added a turbo option, and launched a marketing tie-in with Microsoft's Xbox video-game console.
It has also added a diesel version of the Beetle (the "TDI" model) which appeals to men, who accounted for 70 percent of its sales from January 2011 through February of this year.
On an energy note, the diesel version also gets better fuel mileage than the gasoline-powered model, although according to InsightCentral, which is a Honda forum, the Beetle is one of the dirtier cars on the road by Environmental Protection Agency standards that measure efficiency as well as smog and greenhouse gas emissions. But the turbo option should help improve the environmental picture.
Anyone who wants to man up and voice an opinion on the Beetle's image or performance of any sort, feel free to comment below.
Photo from VW