Cuba sells just 50 cars in first six months after ban lift

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Old American Classic Cars In Central Havana, Cuba.

Cuba is known as a nation that loves its cars. After the 1959 Cuban Revolution, the government made it nearly impossible to obtain a new vehicle. So Cuban drivers kept their '50s classics on the road even through today. Given this automotive enthusiasm, you might be surprised to learn that since the country began freely allowing new vehicle sales in January just 50 cars and 4 motorcycles have been sold through its 11 national dealers.

The meager sales don't appear to be from a lack of demand; it's the huge markups on the cars in showrooms that are keeping them out of consumer's hands. According to Reuters, the national dealers made $1.28 million in the first six months of the year, an average transaction price for the 54 vehicles of about $23,700 each. That might not so bad initially, but the average Cuban worker pulls in about $20 a month. Also, those prices are almost reasonable compared to earlier reports of a Peugeot retailer trying to sell a 508 sedan for $262,000 or a 2005 Renault for $25,000.

Hopefully, consumers don't have to endure this price gouging for long. This could be just the latest step in the long process of opening up the country's vehicle market. After all, it was only in 2011, that citizens could finally more easily sell used cars made after the revolution, according to Reuters. The people there have been able to keep their classics on the road for over half a century. What're a few more years so that the situation can possibly improve further?

Cuba sells just 50 cars in first six months after ban lift originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 03 Jul 2014 19:15:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Havana Motor Club documentary revs up Cuban street racing scene

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Havanna Motor Club Trailer

From the 1959 Cuban Revolution until just recently, it was illegal to buy or sell cars in Cuba without government approval. There were also very few new cars brought into the country. At the same time, racing was also banned on the island nation because it was considered an elitist sport. Of course, a government can do its best to prohibit whatever it wants, but that's not always going to stop passionate people from pursuing what they want to do. And that's exactly what has happened with racing in Cuba - it never really disappeared, it just went underground.

A new documentary titled Havana Motor Club aims to tell the story of Cuba's illegal drag racing scene, along with an attempt to organize the first legal race in the country in decades. However, the film isn't quite done yet, and its creators are raising money on Kickstarter to complete it. The fundraiser has already met its goal of $52,250 to finish editing, license music and generally improve the sound mixing. The filmmakers plan to release the documentary in 2014 or early 2015, but backers can get it early.

Based on the trailer, the documentary is beautifully shot and stars the sort of old-school American iron the country has become legendary for. It's amazing that these cars are still on the road, let alone look as good as they do. The filmmakers say the goal of the documentary is to shed light on the evolving Cuban culture through the spectrum of motorsports, and that sounds like a great place to start to us. Scroll down to watch a trailer for the film and to check out an interview with director and producer Bent-Jorgen Perlmutt from Autoline Daily (about 5:43 into the video).

Continue reading Havana Motor Club documentary revs up Cuban street racing scene

Havana Motor Club documentary revs up Cuban street racing scene originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 01 May 2014 16:57:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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400% markups reported as Cuba opens new/used car sales for first time since 1959

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One could hardly blame Cuban consumers for suffering from a bout of 'sticker shock' when new car shopping this week - after all, they haven't had the opportunity since 1959. But it isn't just a half-century of inflation that buyers are having to wrap their heads around this week, it's massive markups.

Reuters is reporting that with the Cuban state opening up the sale of new vehicles without special dispensation, price markups of 400 percent and more are turning away would-be shoppers in droves. In a country where average monthly wages total just $20, you can imagine the shock and incredulity that is accompanying word of a state-run Peugeot dealer asking $262,000 for a 508 - a D-segment model that typically lines up against cars like the Ford Mondeo.

And it's not just new cars that are suffering from the markups - Reuters interviewed Cuban artist Cesar Perez, who was looking at an unspecified 2005 Renault. The used car lot's price was $25,000, where similar models trade for just $3,000 outside of the island nation. "These prices show a lack of respect for all Cubans. What is here are wrecks. I now have no hope of getting a car for my family," he said.

The price gouging is being viewed by at least one analyst, John Kirk, a Canadian academic expert on Latin America, as a "luxury tax imposed by the government on the nouveau riches of Cuba." No matter what it is, with such heady prices, Cuba's venerable culture of keeping old automobiles alive by whatever means are available seems unlikely to change any time soon.

400% markups reported as Cuba opens new/used car sales for first time since 1959 originally appeared on Autoblog on Sat, 04 Jan 2014 13:01:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Cuba opens up sale of new cars for first time since 1959 revolution

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Cuba Daily Life

Cuban citizens will be able to freely buy new and used cars for the very first time since the island country converted to communism in 1959. Previously, citizens were only able to buy and sell cars without government approval if they were built before the revolution, which accounts for the spectacular array of vintage American metal on the island, according to a report by Automotive News.

But changes two years ago allowed newer models to be sold to individuals, provided they obtained approval from the country's communist government. The new regulations strip the approval process, though, as part of a push by the country's president, Raul Castro, to increase freedom for average citizens.

Castro, who took over for his ailing brother, Fidel, in 2008, has pushed for increased freedom and less government oversight in the country. Although the nation is opening up its automotive market, it may not be quite so affordable to all citizens - newer models may include a 100-percent tax, meant to fund Cuba's public transport system, according to the Communist Party's newspaper, Granma. Still, the move is likely to be good news for the growing number of private businesses in the country.

Cuba opens up sale of new cars for first time since 1959 revolution originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 20 Dec 2013 14:32:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Motor Trend does the Cuban classic car thing

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As car enthusiasts, we all know the little gem about classic American cars driving around the streets of Cuba, but few of us will ever be able to see these sites first hand. Fortunately, Motor Trend recently spent some time in the land of cigars, mojitos and Yank Tanks to create this incredible mini-documentary about the cars and the country for the latest video in its Epic Drives series.

While the cars look like they came straight out of the 1950s, most of them are powered by modern-ish engines for the sake of fuel economy and ease of repair. An old Pontiac in the video is powered by a four-cylinder diesel sourced from Hyundai-Kia, while a '53 Oldsmobile has borrowed the engine from a Soviet welder to get it around. Now, this is not your normal Motor Trend video that spends the entire time talking cars, but rather it's something more along the lines of what you might see on the Travel Channel. It's definitely worth checking out in the video below. When you're done, let us know what cool cars you spot running around the streets of Havana in the Comments.

Continue reading Motor Trend does the Cuban classic car thing

Motor Trend does the Cuban classic car thing originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 25 Apr 2013 20:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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