Mexico to Phase Out Dirty "Vochos," or VW Beetles
The ubiquitous green and white Volkswagen bugs that serve as cheap taxis for millions of Mexico City residents while damaging their lungs by spewing ultra fine particulate matter and other pollutants will be phased out by 2012, according to the Spanish news agency Efe. The cars, known fondly as "vochos," proliferated in Mexico decades after Volkswagen began manufacturing them in the city of Puebla.
The municipal transport and road ministry, known as Setravi, issued a ruling Friday saying the Beetles are less safe and are responsible for more pollution than any modern vehicle. The ministry provided few details on how the phase out would occur, but the idea is to replace the vochos with modern, fuel-efficient and clean-vehicles.
"They pollute so much more. They only gets eight kilometers per liter (around 19 miles to the gallon), while a modern car gets 14 kilometers (roughly 34 mpg)," Victor Manuel Ramirez, the head of Setravi's taxi division, told the new agency.
The first Volkswagen Beetles arrived in Mexico in 1956 after a trio of banana magnates who were frustrated by bringing their ships back empty from Europe decided to fill them with cars. Mexico's love affair with the Beetle was launched soon thereafter. The car was cheap and strong, and could be repaired with a screwdriver and hammer. By 1973, one in three cars sold in Mexico was a vocho, according to Zona Latina.