Venerable Beetle Survives And Succeeds in Mexico

THERE'S only one place in the world where the Volkswagen Beetle is still produced: Mexico. And the people's car is still setting sales records. In 1993, while the overall Mexican domestic car market saw a 14.4 percent sales slump, the famous little bug known here as ``El Vocho'' sold an historic 100,000 units, according to Volkswagen Mexico.

These are not the fancy SuperBeetle models that were sold during the sedan's last years in the North American market. This is your basic white-bread model; no frills but reliable. At about $9,000, it's the cheapest car on the market.

``When it came time for delivery, the dealer asked: `What color would you like? We have white now or you can wait six months and we may have another color,' '' says Enrique Diaz, recounting the purchase of his long-awaited Bug last year. ``I'll take white, I told him.''

In a market that only sells slightly more than half a million cars a year, the VW sedan captures about one-quarter of the market, making Volkswagen the No. 1 automotive distributor, in total units, in Mexico.

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