Volkswagen Beetles once made up half of the taxi fleet of Mexico City but all 50,000 are now off the road for safety and pollution reasons. The last Mexican-made ones rolled off the assembly line in 2003, so the newest Beetle taxis were ten years old when the ban took effect.
Mexico City – Fact Check

La Cucaracha is gone but not forgotten

Photo by Frans Lemmens

Mexico City – Fact Check La Cucaracha is gone but not forgotten

The "Vocho", Mexico's abbreviated name for the Volkswagen Beetle, was once a common sight on the country's roads, with 70 per cent of all families having owned one at some point.

Kieran Meeke
Kieran Meeke Travel Writer

Every traveler to Mexico City once had a story to tell of the bright green Beetle taxis known as a “Cucaracha” (Cockroach). Any journey was an adventure when there was no passenger door – to ease access in the two-door vehicle to the cramped back seat – and no safety belts.

Now the vochos have been swept away by taxi regulations that mandate at least four doors and, luxury of luxuries, a trunk for luggage. Anyone who still wants a “green” taxi has to hail an electric cab. And Uber has arrived here, as elsewhere in the world, to help drive down prices and increase choices.

The changes reflects progress in Mexico’s car industry, which turned out more than 21 million Beetles between 1967 and the end of production in 2003. Now a major player in the North American market, Mexico is number four in car exports behind Germany, South Korea and Japan.

For domestic buyers, the latest cars are often out of reach. One common option is a “consorcio” who pool their savings and choose by lottery whose turn it is to have a car as the funds accumulate.

VW Produktion in Mexico

Volkswagen has building cars in Mexico for the U.S. market since 1967 and makes most of the 350,000 VWs now sold to American consumers every year Photo by Kieran Meeke / Alamy

Kieran Meeke

Kieran Meeke

Agency
Alamy

Volkswagen has building cars in Mexico for the U.S. market since 1967 and makes most of the 350,000 VWs now sold to American consumers every year

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