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Hemmings Motor News Blog

Hemmings Motor News has been around since 1954. We're proud of our heritage, but we're also more than the Hemmings full of classifieds that your father subscribed to. Aside from new editorial content every month in Hemmings, we have three monthly magazines: Hemmings Muscle Machines, Hemmings Classic Car and Hemmings Sports and Exotic Car.

While our editors traverse the country to find the best content for those magazines, we find other oddities related to the old-car hobby that we really had no place for - until now. With this blog, we're giving you a behind-the-scenes look at what we see and what we do during the course of putting out some of the finest automotive magazines you'll ever read.

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End of the Line - Mexico City’s VW Beetle Taxis

Posted March 19, 2012 12:30 PM by dstrohl

Mexico City is famous for many things; traffic being one of the most notorious attributes of the largest city in the western hemisphere. Boasting an official population greater than 20,000,000 people, Mexico City has a public taxi fleet encompassing more than 130,000 cars, very likely the largest in the world. Just a few years ago, around half of those taxis were Volkswagen Type 1s, the classic Beetle that remained in production in Puebla, Mexico, until 2003. But that run as a taxi comes to an end in 2012 as the city's director of taxi services has declared that the car "has concluded its useful life."

An unlikely car for carrying paying passengers, the Vocho, as its known in Mexico, has proven rugged and durable, with its simple maintenance a boon for owners and drivers, since it was officially adopted as an economical taxi in 1970. No surprise there. But Mexico City also has a terrible problem with pollution and among the laws on the books is one that requires taxis to be no more than eight years old. The air-cooled Bug may have been good on gas, but it's never been a truly clean-running engine in terms of emissions.

The most recent Beetle taxis date from 2002 and were given a two-year extension to that eight-year rule, but that will expire at the end of 2012. The authorities also require that new taxis have four doors, another rule that the Vocho was exempted from. Quoted from a television interview, Victor Ramirez, the director of taxi services in the city's transportation office, said, "The new norm establishes that the useful life of a public taxi is 10 years and [all taxis] must have four doors and a proper trunk," two qualities sorely lacking in the Beetle.

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