Art Project

Check out the Vochol, a Volkswagen Beetle covered with 2,277,000 Huichol beads

A unique Volkswagen Beetle celebrates the historic culture of one region of Mexico

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

There's n doubt that vintage Volkswagens can be quirky. This one might just take the cake. It's a 1990 Volkswagen Beetle adorned with over two million carefully placed glass beads.

Its name is "Vochol", which is a portmanteau of "vocho", a common term for Beetles in Mexico, and "Huichol" another name for the Wixárika indigenous group in the western states of Nayarit and Jalisco, Mexico. The Huichol people are separated from modern Mexico by the Sierra Madre mountains, a location they've called home for hundreds of years.

Over that time, Huichol artists have preserved many of their pre-Columbian traditions through the centuries, including their decorative beadwork. Their artistry originally consisted of seeds, shells, and other natural materials. They used these to adorn jewelry, animal skulls, bowls, and masks. The beadwork, using glass or modern plastic beads, depicts geometric patterns and scenes of animals and crops.

Volkswagen Vochol

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

Ten years ago, the Vochol was commissioned by a ground of public and private organizations. The goal of the project was to create artwork using folk techniques on a modern canvas, demonstrating the ongoing traditions of Mexico's indigenous communities.

The Beetle was made in Puebla, Mexico for 65 years before production ended in 2019.

It took eight artists from two Huichol families eight months to decorate the chassis and interior of the Beetle. They covered sections of the car with resin before applying the beads by hand.

The design that was chosen is exclusive to the car and features symbols of Huichol spiritual beliefs. On the hood are two snakes in the clouds to represent rain. The sides depict deer, scorpions, birds and peyote flowers, which are all important symbols in Huichol culture and spirituality. On the roof, a large sun symbolizes the union between humans and gods, and four two-headed eagles offer protection to the passengers inside. An image of a shaman steering a canoe adorns the back of the car. The phrases "200 years of Independence" and "100 years since the Mexican Revolution" are spelled out in the Wixárika language along the fenders to mark the bicentennial of the start of the war of independence from Spain in 1810 and the centennial of the Mexican Revolution in 1910.

In total, the artisans used about 2,277,000 beads in their finished product and totaled over 9,000 hours of work. The car is might just be the largest individual piece of Huichol beadwork ever created.

The masterpiece was unveiled at a museum in Guadalajara, Mexico. It was then featured in Mexico City for exhibition, and later embarked on an international tour at museums across the United States, Europe, Asia, South America, and the Middle East. When it is not on loan, the Vochol resides at the Museo de Arte Popular in Mexico City.

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Nuts & Bolts

 
 

The expected range of the Volkswagen ID.4 has been confirmed.

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

The 2021 Volkswagen ID.4 will have an EPA-estimated 250-mile range. The estimate is for ID.4 1st Edition and Pro models. The EPA-estimated fuel economy for city driving is 104 MPGe; highway driving is rated at 89 MPGe, and combined city/highway at 97 MPGe. It will be VW's first long-range model sold in the U.S.

The ID.4 1st Edition and Pro will be the first models out of the gate for VW. They feature an 82 kilowatt-hour battery and a rear-mounted motor that produces 201 horsepower and 228 pound-feet of torque.

2021 Volkswagen ID.4 The interior of the ID.4 features a minimalist aesthetic.Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

Volkswagen says that at a DC fast-charging station, with 125 kilowatt charging, the ID.4 can go from five to 80 percent charged in about 38 minutes. VW is providing three years of Electrify America fast charging with every ID.4 purchase at no additional cost. Electrify America is the nation's largest open DC fast charging network with more than 470 charging stations and over 2,000 DC fast chargers. Earlier this year the company completed its second cross-country charging route.

Based on calculations by Volskwagen using the EPA's cost allowances, it will cost $700 per year, on average, to fuel the ID.4 in the U.S. The company estimates that over five years owners will save $2,250 compared to the average new model.

The first ID.4s will be made overseas soon. VW will make the battery electric vehicle (BEV) in the U.S.A at VW's Chattanooga plant. The model will be made and go on sale in early 2021.

Pricing for the ID.4 starts at $39,995 for the ID.4 Pro. Buyers may qualify for a $7,500 federal tax credit. The limited-run ID.4 1st Edition, which sold out the day the vehicle was launched, carried an MSRP of $43,995.

Volkswagen has plans to release a 302-horsepower, electric all-wheel-drive variant of the ID.4 later in 2021. Range estimates for that model are forthcoming.

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Little Sesame's Volkswagen Bus allows the restaurant's chefs to travel the country in search of new flavors.

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

Holiday shoppers this year, once again, have shopping small on the mind. For some businesses, their idea of small is smaller than most. From a hummus shop to a coffee shop, to a mobile bookstore, many small business owners rely on vintage Volkswagen products to help their businesses run.

Little Sesame

Little Sesame Volkswagen Bus

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

In 2015, chefs Nick Wiseman and Ronen Tenne opened their hummus shop in Washington, D.C. They didn't just want another restaurant, they wanted to create a different way of doing business than they'd experienced in some of the New York City area kitchens they'd cooked in over the years. They wanted travel.

In order to inspire new flavors , Wiseman and Tenne hop into their robin's egg blue 1978 Volkswagen Bus and explore the country. Their current Bowl of the Week brings in autumn and wintertime flavors with ingredients like maple roasted winter squash, pomegranate molasses, crispy chickpeas, za'ata, and herbs.

The restaurant, with locations in the Golden Triangle and Chinatown, is currently open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. They offer catering and meal kits as well as online ordering for pickup and delivery.

Dom's Coffee

In Farmington Valley, Connecticut, a European-style coffee shop sits on a strip of real estate next to buildings similar to what you'd find in nearly anyone's hometown - a car dealership and a church. The brick-and-mortar shop was opened by Andrius Plankis and Asta Plankiene in May 2015, two years after the couple emigrated to the U.S. from Lithuania.

In addition to their shop, they run a fully-equipped mobile espresso bar out of the back of a Volkswagen Atlas R-Line. Their specialty is artistically crafted drinks including espressos, affogatos, specialty lattes, cold brews, and hot chocolates.

The Cincy Book Bus

The Cincy Book Bus

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

After retiring from 25 years of teaching, Melanie Moore decided it was time to pursue her dream: opening a bookstore. But she didn't just want to own the shop around the corner, she wanted to have a business that would work to get books into the hands of children that need them the most. Just as she was about to sign a lease for a storefront, she got cold feet.

Inspired by a novel centered around a fictional, female horse-drawn carriage bookseller, Moore decided to launch the Cincy Book Bus – a mobile bookstore – out of the bed of her husband's teal 1962 Volkswagen Transporter. The van holds about 150 books, and Moore regularly rotates titles to cater to her audiences.

Moore dedicates her profits to stocking classroom libraries.

While these three businesses are small, three large corporations (including Nike) were founded from humble beginnings thanks in no small part to their Volkswagens. Click here to read their stories.

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