Un-bee-lievable: 2018 Shed of the Year winner crowned

Following the unveiling of the 2018 shortlist last month, an overall winner of the 11th annual Cuprinol Shed of the Year has now been declared. Sheffield sheddie George Smallwood got the nod for his Bee Eco Shed, a haven for honeybees and other insects.

The Bee Eco Shed is envisioned as a celebration of nature and came about when Smallwood began building a base for a standard ready-made shed. During the process he got inspired, and the project eventually grew into a custom shed built from scratch.

The shed includes an interior space and shelving to store tools and the like. Additionally, a spiral staircase provides access to the rooftop terrace, which includes two beehives that have already produced around 14 liters (3.7 US gallons) of honey in the past 12 months or so. Other notable features include a large “bug house,” and a simple water harvesting system that consists of guttering used to irrigate a herb garden.

The Bee Eco Shed beat an impressive 2,971 entries this year. Over 16,000 public votes were cast and the result was decided by a judging panel that included 2017 Shed of the Year winner Ben Swanborough.

Smallwood has been awarded £1,000 (roughly US$1,300) for his efforts, as well as some products from competition sponsor Cuprinol, a winner’s plaque, and that all-important giant crown for his shed.

“Coming in at the top spot was such a welcome surprise,” says Smallwood. “When we started the project we never could have dreamed we’d be here now. We hope our shed will inspire others around the UK to create spaces for wildlife in their gardens. There were so many innovative and creative sheds this year, so we’re absolutely thrilled to have been crowned the winner of Cuprinol Shed of the Year 2018!”

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Volkswagen to discontinue Beetle, Final Edition set for 2019

The 2019 model year will be the end of the iconic Volkswagen Beetle. VW says that it will be focusing on family-oriented vehicles going forward, and the Beetle does not meet that goal. The 2019 VW Beetle will have a special Final Edition model in its SE and SEL trims as a send-off.

“The loss of the Beetle after three generations, over nearly seven decades, will evoke a host of emotions from the Beetle’s many devoted fans,” said Hinrich J. Woebcken, President and CEO, Volkswagen Group of America.

Several other statements by the automaker, however, hint to what VW plans to do going forward. Woebcken specifically said that the company will be a “full-line, family-focused automaker in the US” and that the company will “ramp up our electrification strategy with the MEB platform.” He also seemed to be hinting that the Beetle could, potentially, return at a later date, but that there are “no immediate plans to replace it.”

These statements give a few hints that will allow much speculation among the automotive press going forward. A “full-line automaker,” for example, usually is defined as offering everything from compact cars to full-sized pickup trucks. With the Volkswagen Atlas pickup concept debuting earlier this year, that’s a possibility.

What we do know is that, for now, the VW Beetle will be no more after the 2019 model year. For the Final Edition offerings, the Beetle will look back to its last “final hurrah” in 2003 when it was temporarily discontinued in the “Ultima Edicion.” Those models were available in beige and light blue, and for 2019, the Final Edition Beetles will also be available in Safari Uni (beige) and Stonewashed Blue (as seen in the 2016 Beetle Denim). Unlike the previous Ultimas, however, the Final Edition models will also be available in other Beetle colors.

The 2019 Volkswagen Beetle, no matter the model, will be powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, turbocharged to produce 174 horsepower (130 kW). Most standard equipment for the Beetle series will be included, along with upgrades for the Final Edition models to include driver-assistance technologies and safety systems. The 2019 Beetle SE Final Edition Coupe will start at US$23,045 through to the most expensive SEL Final Edition Convertible at $29,995.