Home > Iván García > Who Can Buy a New Car in Cuba? / Ivan Garcia

Who Can Buy a New Car in Cuba? / Ivan Garcia

coches_cubaWalter had his doubts. He was vacillating between a US-made Willys Jeep from the ’50s, with a Toyoto diesel engine, German air brakes, recently painted and restores, for 32,000 convertible pesos (about $35,000), or wait until January 3, to see if the State would sell the jeep more cheaply.

“I don’t think they’re going to sell a Cherokee or a Hummer, because of the blockade (embargo), but perhaps the government will offer something French- or British-made. I’m thinking perhaps I would like to use it as a taxi. And with the bad state of the roads on the island, I don’t think the modern jeeps can stand up to it like the suspensions of the American cars from the ’40s and ’50s, which are true war tanks,” says Walter.

The official announcement of the marketing of cars by the government still has not led to a substantial lowering of prices in the private market where 95% of the cars sold are used. Aurelio, after showing his 1957 Chevrolet which he maintains like a jewel, says “I won’t sell it for less than 35,000 chavitos (convertible pesos or CUCs).”

If you check on the capital’s car market, you’ll see that any antique out of Detroit from six decades ago, right now costs between $12,000 and $30,000, depending on how well it’s preserved.

If it’s one like Aurelio, which still has its factory engine and the original upholstery, you’ll have to pay at least $40,000. On on-line sites like Revolico.com, new or second-hand, fluctuate between 25,000 and 50,000 CUC.

In Havana, it’s common for an old car to cost more than a new two-bedroom apartment. The prohibition against selling cars, except those made before 1959, raised the prices in an absurd way.

Between 1970-80, the authorities sold Russian cars at 4,500 pesos, less than 200 CUC in current values. These same Ladas or uncomfortable Moskovich today cost between 10,000 and 15,000, depending on their technical state. Then they couldn’t change hands. Their owners couldn’t sell them. In the case of death, the child or other family member inherited the car, and they could not sell it either.

Of course, in the underground Cuban economy Ladas and Moskoviches were sold and even tractors were sold by the piece. In 2011 the regime understood that so many misguided prohibitions contributed to feeding the exaggerated prices.

And they authorized the sale of cars. But established a bureaucratic hurdle: you could only buy and sell old cars, US- or Russian-made. New and second-hand cars could only be acquired through a letter granted by an official.

Which is what happened. On no few occasions, the letters cost more than the vehicle you were going to buy at a state agency. A colossal web of corruption emerged. To put the brakes on the dance of notes under the table, as of 3 January 2014 the regime will involve itself in the business.

According to the official notice, the government will open agencies at current market prices in Cuba. Daniel, a self-employed worker who wants to buy “an economical little South Korean car, nothing spectacular,” put his hands to his head when a friend tells him that a model that costs no more than $3,000 in the U.S. or Brazil, sells in Havana for 9,000 CUC, almost $10,000.

The pretext of the regime for maintaining inflated prices is that the earnings will be dedicated to buying buses. In 55 years of “revolution,” the country has never had decent but service. It could seem like a good idea to subsidize public transport through the sale of cars.

Suppose the regime will undertake some market research. Perhaps 200,000 Cubans can buy new cars costing between 9,000 and 30,000 CUC. Let us assume that 200,000 citizens can  purchase at an average of 10,000 CUC. That would be a net sale of 2 billion CUC.

Excluding the purchase and freight, the profit would be a billion dollars. With this money we could acquire 10,000 articulated buses at 100,000 dollars each. It would seem to be a magic solution; a handful of people, let’s call them the middle class, would provide the public transport that for 55 years of the Castro regime has always been a disaster.

Will they also allocate money to repair and expand the worn out roads. But we live in an autocracy that answers to no one. And to demand transparency from its institutions is synonymous with “counterrevolution.” So we will never know how they are going to invest the earnings that come from the sale of cars.

Walter was one of the first to tour the places where they are displaying the different car models. When he saw the prices, it was clear: he will by the restored Willys jeep for 32,000 convertible pesos (CUC).

Iván García

Photo: Cubans look in one of the parking lots in Havana turned in to retail auto lots. the cheapest sold the first day was a 1997 BMW at 14,457.60 CUC, and the most expensive, a 2010 Hyundai minibus at 110,000 CUC .

 Official price list

2013 PEUGEOT for sale in convertible pesos (CUC)

  • PEUGEOT EXPERT TEPEE 2013 ………………… 212,940.00
  • PEUGEOT 4008 2013 …………………………………  239,250.00
  • PANEL PEUGEOT PARTNER TEPEE 2013…..  145,612.50
  • PEUGEOT 206+ 2013 ………………………………..     91,113.00
  • PEUGEOT 301 2013 …………………………………..   108,084.00
  • PEUGEOT 301 2013 …………………………………..   109,684.00
  • PEUGEOT 301 2013 …………………………………..   109,699.00
  • PEUGEOT 5008 2013 ……………………………….    232,193.50
  • PEUGEOT 508 2013 …………………………………    263,185.50

Other NEW VEHICLES for sale in convertible pesos (CUC)

  • GEELY CK T/A 2010 …………………….  26,550.00
  • GEELY CK T/M 2009 ……………..…….. 25,950.00
  • GEELY FC 2009 ……………………………. 37,500.00
  • GEELY MK 2009 …………………………… 30,000.00
  • HYUNDAI ACCENT T/A 2011 ………… 45,000.00
  • HYUNDAI ACCENT T/A 2009-2010.. 37,500.00
  • HYUNDAI ATOS 2009 …………………… 21,450.00
  • HYUNDAI 110 T/A 2009 ……….………  29,250.00
  • HYUNDAI 110 T/A 2009 ………….……  31,500.00
  • HYUNDAI 110 T/M 2009 ………….…..  25,000.00
  • HYUNDAI 110 T/M 2009 ………….…..  28,500.00
  • KIA RIO 2011 ……………………………….  42,000.00
  • SEAT ALTEA 2008 ……………………..   45,000.00
  • VW JETTA 2010 …………………..……..   51,000.00

USED VEHICLES for sale in convertible pesos (CUC)

  • MICROBUS HYUNDAI TQ12 2009-2010 ……. 110,000.00
  • JEEP HYUNDAI SANTA FE 2009-2010 …….    90,000.00
  • JEEP SUZUKI JIMNY 2008 ……………………..    69,195.00
  • JEEP SUZUKI JIMNY 2008 ……………………..    30,000.00
  • AUDI A4 2000 ………………………………………..    45,000.00
  • BMW SMOD 1997 …………………………………….   14,457.60
  • CITROEN C3 2008 ………………………………….    46,025.10
  • CITROEN SAXO 2003 ……………………………..    26,431.65
  • CHANA-ALSV ALSVANA 2010 ………………….   31,950.00
  • DAIHATSU GRAND MOVE 2000 ……..………    22,000.00
  • FIAT PUNTO 2008 ………………………………….    28,950.00
  • FIAT UNO 2002 ………………………………………    18,000.00
  • GEELY CK 2010 ………………………………………    26,149.95
  • GEELY CK 2010 ………………………………………    26,150.10
  • HYUNDAI ACCENT T/M 2007 …………………    35,000.00
  • HYUNDAI ACCENT T/A 2011 ………………….     45,000.00
  • HYUNDAI ACCENT T/A 2009-2010 ………..     37,500.00
  • HYUNDAI ACCENT T/M 2011 ………………..     45,000.00
  • HYUNDAI ATOS 2007-2009 ………………….      21,450.00
  • HYUNDAI AZERA 2009 ………………………..      75,000.00
  • HYUNDAI GETZ 2009 …………………………..      32,250.00
  • HYUNDAI SONATA 2009-2010 ……………..      60,000.00
  • KIA PICANTO 2011 ………………………………..      38,285.40
  • KIA PICANTO 2011 ……………………………….      40,854.60
  • KIA PICANTO 2011 ……………………………….      41,486.40
  • KIA PICANTO 2011 ……………………………….      37,189.80
  • KIA PICANTO 2011 ……………………………….      37,782.45
  • KIA PICANTO 2011 ……………………………….      35,000.00
  • KIA PICANTO 2008 ………………………………      28,000.00
  • KIA PICANTO 2011 ……………………………….      42,000.00
  • KIA PICANTO 2009 ………………………………      35,000.00
  • MERCEDES BENZ 2006 ……………………….       60,000.00
  • MITSUBISHI LANCER 1997 ………………….       20,000.00
  • PEUGEOT 406 1999 ……………………………..       28,000.00
  • PEUGEOT 106 2003 ……………………………..       16,222.95
  • PEUGEOT 206 2008 ……………………………        85,227.60
  • PEUGEOT 206 2004 ……………………………        30,000.00
  • PEUGEOT 407 2004 ……………………………        30,000.00
  • PEUGEOT PARTNER 2008 …………………        25,600.00
  • RENAULT CLIO 2005 ………………………..         25,000.00
  • RENAULT SM3 2008 ………………………..         46,116.30
  • RENAULT SM3 2008 ………………………..         30,000.00
  • RENAULT SM3 2008 ………………………..         31,500.00
  • RENAULT SM7 2008 ………………………..         90,000.00
  • SEAT ALTEA 2008 …………………………..         45,000.00
  • SEAT CORDOVA 2008 ……………………..         31,500.00
  • TOYOTA COROLA 2006 ……………………         39,224.80
  • TOYOTA YARIS 2003 ……………………….         25,000.00
  • TOYOTA YARIS 2002 ……………………….         25,000.00
  • VW JETTA 2010 ……………………………….         51,000.00
  • VW PASSAT 2008 …………………………….         54,000.00
  • VW PASSAT 2010 …………………………….         67,500.00
  • VW POLO 2007 ……………………………….         25,000.00
  • VW POLO 2007 ……………………………….         25,000.00

4 January 2014

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  1. January 7, 2014 at 4:03 pm

    I never understand why trading cars is prohibited in Cuba. All communist countries in Europe had car market, domestic car production and some possibility to buy imported car at least from other eastern countries, so people owned cars at that time.

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