As the final Beetle rolled off the assembly line of Volkswagen’s Puebla plant in Mexico it marked the end of an era.
From 1955, the factory has been building first-, second-, and third-generation Beetles without interruption. The Beetle has succumbed to the popularity of SUVs and it’s no surprise that the Mexican plant will replace it with a sports utility vehicle.
As VW mentioned in the press release that announced the end of Beetle production, “Volkswagen de Mexico will soon shift resources to produce a North American market-focused compact SUV that fits in the manufacturer’s lineup below the Tiguan.”
According to VW of Mexico CEO Steffen Reiche, that particular model will be called Tarek and will enter production in late 2020 in Puebla, which also builds the Jetta sedan and Tiguan SUV. The new SUV is expected to reach U.S. dealerships in 2021.
The Tarek will be based on the China-spec VW Tharu, itself a rebadged Skoda Karoq. It will become the brand’s entry-level SUV in the United States, positioned below the long-wheelbase Tiguan — mind you, the T-Cross and T-Roc are not sold stateside.
Steffen Reiche said the new compact crossover for North America will be a beefed-up version of the Tharu. “We’ll adapt the Chinese model for this market. Our version will be the stronger one, the rougher one compared to the Chinese one,” the executive was quoted by Bloomberg at the event marking the end of Beetle production.
While the VW Tarek for North America will be made in Mexico, South American markets will import the model from Argentina where the compact SUV will also be made at the carmaker’s Pacheco plant.
As with the VW Tharu, the Tarek will be based on the carmaker’s good-for-all MQB platform. In China, the Tharu offers three turbocharged four-cylinder gasoline engines (1.2-, 1.4, and 2.0-liter units) with outputs of 116 PS (114 hp), 150 PS (148 hp), and 190 PS (187 hp), respectively. A seven-speed dual-clutch transmission is standard for every engine and all versions come with front-wheel drive.
Note: Chinese-spec VW Tharu pictured