New cars to be sold in Cuba in 2012

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An old car in Cuba

New cars may be heading for Cuba, but don't expect to see the older pre-embargo American cars replaced any time soon. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

A new market for exports is always welcome among car makers, and a new place to ship cars might be opening up after decades without access. It is rumored that new cars might be getting shipped to be sold in Cuba, as reforms will allow for it next year.

Reforms lead to new cars and privately owned homes

Earlier this year, the government of Cuba announced that one of the few remaining socialist countries would take on some pseudo-capitalist reforms. President Raul Castro, younger brother of Fidel and counterpart in the Cuban revolution, announced economic reforms, according to the New York Times, which would initially include the right to purchase private property. Cubans had previously been allowed to start their own businesses and own cellular phones, and another recently announced reform is that Cubans will also soon be able to purchase new cars, according to USA Today.

Past the days of ‘Patria o Muerte’

Sometime in early 2012, Cuban citizens will be eligible to purchase or sell new cars in Cuba. However, the dealerships will be state-owned. According to the Detroit Free Press, General Motors has no plans at the moment to start exporting cars to Cuba, though many of the pre-embargo cars on the roads in Cuba were made by General Motors and most of them during the Eisenhower administration. There have been occasional imports, as Russia was selling Lada cars to Cuba during the 1970s. There are already a small number of new cars in Cuba. In 2009, according to the Seattle Post Intelligencer, President Raul Castro allowed new vehicles such as buses, jeeps and passenger cars to be sold to citizens to start up taxi businesses, which is one of the few ways to make a decent living in Cuba. However, cars will now be able to be sold to private citizens.

Small market

According to the Los Angeles Times, there are fledgling car washes starting to appear in Havana. Though Cuba will start importing new cars, the embargo of Cuba is still in effect, and the Big Three of Detroit are not likely to push for a permit to start exporting any cars there. Also, there are few people who will be able to buy a new car. Most Cubans live close to or below the poverty line, and there aren’t many people who can afford a Tata Nano, let alone a brand-new Audi. Most car sales in Cuba are to the government. According to the Detroit Free Press, the Cuban government buys Hyundais and Kias, Chinese cars such as Geely cars and the occasional Volkswagen.


USA Today

New York Times

Detroit Free Press

Seattle Post Intelligencer

Los Angeles Times

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