Even though the Cuban market is open to foreign imports since January 2014, in July of the same year we wondered whether it was the smallest car market in the world with just 50 units sold in the first six months, almost exclusively second hand. This due to sticker prices being marked up a staggering 400% or more upon entry in the country, pricing family sedans like supercars. Since then, not much has filtered out about this market. Given its tax structure, it seems likely that the best-sellers in Cuba are dictated by government orders. In December 2017, Russian carmaker Avtovaz (Lada) reported it resumed its exports towards the country for the first time in 12 years., with 320 Lada Vesta for the tourism sector and taxi services. “Cuba is one of our preferred export markets,” said Avtovaz president Nicolas Maure. Lada indeed has a long tradition in Cuba, where old models are still used to this day. This batch is likely to make the Lada Vesta the best-selling new vehicle in Cuba in 2017.
Picture by Teemu R. All rights reserved.
* You can see the original article by clicking on the title! *
In October 2011 I reported that car purchase was finally legalised in Cuba after over 50 years of tight restrictions country-wide. However at the time I had expressed reservations as to how much new and used car sales in Cuba could grow given the average monthly salary in the country is just 17 dollars. Turns out I was on the money… The 2011 law change affected car purchases between Cuban consumers and last January all restrictions on vehicle purchase were lifted, meaning importing companies can now start doing business in the country.
According to South African website iol.co.za, citing the official website Cubadebate.com, itself citing Iset Vazquez, vice president of the state enterprise Corporacion CIMEX, Cuban dealers sold just 50 cars and 4 motorcycles across the country in the first six months of 2014! That’s old and new combined! Quite an unbelievable result that actually has a very simple explanation. Upon import into the country, it would appear that sticker prices are marked up a staggering 400% or more, pricing family sedans like European sports cars. To its defence, the Cuban government reportedly said it would invest 75% of the proceeds from new car sales in its woeful public transportation system.
Even more troubling, most of the sales so far this year appear to be 2nd hand, and even then they are pricing just about every living Cuban out of the market for a car. A few examples: a 2013 Peugeot 206 (a model originally launched in 1998) was priced at $91,000 in Havana while the larger 508 would set you back wanted $262,000. Not even in Singapore are prices so high.
Previous Cuba post: Cuba October 2011: Geely ships second batch of cars
Original article below.
Now that Cuban consumers can purchase a car freely, Chinese manufacturer Geely has shipped a batch of 1,560 cars to the country using all shipping logistics, composed of 1,310 units of the Geely CK and 250 units of the Emgrand EC7. These cars are destined to be used by the Defence and Tourism Ministries, rental car companies and possibly private buyers.
This is the second time Geely exports a batch of cars to Cuba after shipping 1,500 units of the Geely CK in 2009. Geely owns Swedish automaker Volvo and now exports to a significant numbers of countries around the world: Peru, Uruguay, Chile and Venezuela in South America, Bangladesh and Indonesia in Asia, Russia, Romania and Turkey in Europe, and South Africa. In 2011 Geely began exporting to Australia and New Zealand and last September it was the turn of Saudi Arabia.
Picture by Teemu R. All rights reserved.
Historical date today in Cuba: until now only people who bought a car before the 1959 revolution or those who were granted the right to purchase one afterwards for personal or political achievements could actually own their vehicles. From October 1, every Cuban citizen can now purchase a car, and it is also now legal to own more than one vehicle!
Picture by Faw. All rights reserved.
This will have a massive impact on the country’s car landscape, currently dominated by the “yank tanks”, pre-1959 vintage Americans, and Ladas as seen in my Cuban article. Recently Hyundai had made inroads with its Accent, Santro and i10, mainly to rental car companies, as well as the Chinese: Great Wall for commercial vehicles and Geely with police cars. Seat, Peugeot and Skoda are also present among others.
Picture by Robin Thom. All rights reserved.
Now the market is wide open and will be fascinating to follow over the next couple of years, keeping in mind the average monthly salary in Cuba is 17 dollars. Let’s say the yank tanks still have a few good years ahead of them…
Source, more pictures and Cuba street videos below.
Vintage American car in Cuba. Picture by Walter Lo Cascio. All rights reserved.
The Cuban car market structure is a fascinating testimony of the country’s last 60 years history. Its famous 1950’s American cars (60,000 are still in circulation), relics of the pre-revolutionary period, are now outnumbered by over 100,000 Ladas, the most visible legacy of the country’s Cold War alliance with the Soviet Union.
Lada in Cuba. Picture by Tom Eversley. All rights reserved.
More recently, Hyundai seems to have reaped the title of best-selling brand in Cuba, with the Hyundai Accent the probable Cuban best-seller, and the i10 and Santro also doing very well, especially with rental car companies
Lastly in 2009, government and police have started replacing their Ladas with Geely CK’s, symbolizing Cuba’s recent closer ties with China, with as much as 1,500 units imported in H1 ’09.
More commentaries, striking street scene pictures and informative street videos are below, click on ‘read more’ just below the Geely CK picture.