Car Sales in Cuba: Stepping on the Brakes to Move Forward

By Ernesto Perez Castillo  (Progreso Weekly)

Used cars waiting to be sold at astronomical prices.

HAVANA TIMES – I remember a few years back, after the Cuban government authorized the sale of cars to individuals, when I almost had a heart attack laughing (and crying) because of the prices. The fact is that I felt a great deal of discomfort, and I returned to greasing and lubricating my bicycle while leaving behind the dream of ever buying my first car.

There was a friend who helped me cope with my anger. He asked me if I could purchase one if they’d slash the price of those cars in half. He went as far as asking whether if the price was 5,000, or 3,000, or even $500… did I have that kind of money in my pocket?

The truth is I did not have one disposable peso on hand — I still don’t. Whereupon he responded with a, “See! … Those prices set are not meant for you,” he told me. “Neither are those autos,” he added. “Relax and forget about it,” concluded my friend, “because if you don’t have the money, then the car is not meant for you.”

But as time passed, I suddenly realized that that money was and is mine. As the store where the cars are sold is mine, as well as the empty store with refrigerators is mine. Everything, including those cars on sale, is mine while my beautiful Cuba remains socialist.

Later on, though, I again had my doubts when I saw government officials on TV explaining that they don’t intend to sell those cars to just anyone (clearly they won’t be selling me one), but to those who have much purchasing power. Later the profits derived, they explained, will help finance the trains and the public buses, and blah, blah, blah.

Price of (used) cars as per the Cuban government agency: the first column is the type of auto; second column is the price in convertible pesos (CUC); third column is a 10% discount when transferred to magnetic cards; and the last column is the price in hard currency: dollars, euros, yens, or some other form of currency.

Anyway, for a better system of transportation we should wait for one of those very rich types, those kind of crazy individuals who’ve run out of ideas and things to waste their money on, who have nothing better to do than to buy a highly overpriced used car. And as surprising as this may sound, these people do exist, as the lines in the above mentioned dealerships demonstrate.

Take note though, these persons will have to pay in full and up front for their acquisition with one of those magnetic cards, the ones in dollars, euros, yens, or whatever is identified as real money. And forget a system of credit or any financial mechanism, other than cash up front, exactly as it is not done everywhere else on this earth.

And those rich folks, where does their money come from? Is it sent from elsewhere, from an even richer relative who’s even crazier? Or did they get rich right here on the backs of our people? Seriously, will we ever know where that money comes from?

When these new stores were opened dealing only in those magnetic cards, and the real money they represent, it was said that they would sell only high-end items at competitive prices. This timely strategy and the urgent need to raise hard currency, that renewed commitment now that we have those northern winds working against us, turns to water in our hands when trying to purchase a used car at five times its price.

Things should be, at the very least, clear. As simple and elementary as a binary equation that tells us, “We want to sell you a car.” Or we don’t… And if we need to sell them, because we want your money, we must come up with a way that we truly do sell them, and that people realize that you really want to sell them.

It’s either that or close the dealership and throw away the key, because it’s a bad idea to put your left hand signal on to turn right, or vice versa. It’s even worse to step on the brakes, or put your car in reverse, when we’re screaming that we want to move forward.

The following is the old price list from the official government sales agency with estimated new prices with the discount  (Note: some of the cars may have already been sold)

PEUGEOT EXPERT TEPEE 2013212940,00191646,00
PEUGEOT 4008 2013239250,00215325,00
PANEL PEUGEOT PARTNER TEPEE 2013145612,50131051,25
PEUGEOT 206+ 201391113,0082001,70
PEUGEOT 301 2013108084,0097275,60
PEUGEOT 301 2013109684,0098715,60
PEUGEOT 301 2013109699,0098729,10
PEUGEOT 5008 2013232193,50208974,15
PEUGEOT 508 2013263185,50236866,95
GEELY CK T/A 201026550,0023895,00
GEELY CK T/M 200925950,0023355,00
GEELY FC 200937500,0033750,00
GEELY MK 200930000,0027000,00
HYUNDAI ACCENT T/A 201145000,0040500,00
HYUNDAI ACCENT T/A 2009-201037500,0033750,00
HYUNDAI ATOS 200921450,0019305,00
HYUNDAI 110 T/A 200929250,0026325,00
HYUNDAI 110 T/A 200931500,0028350,00
HYUNDAI 110 T/M 200925000,0022500,00
HYUNDAI 110 T/M 200928500,0025650,00
KIA RIO 201142000,0037800,00
SEAT ALTEA 200845000,0040500,00
VW JETTA 201051000,0045900,00
MICROBUS HYUNDAI TQ12 2009-2010110000,0099000,00
JEEP HYUNDAI SANTA FE 2009-201090000,0081000,00
JEEP SUZUKI JIMNY 200869195,0062275,50
JEEP SUZUKI JIMNY 200830000,0027000,00
AUDI A4 200045000,0040500,00
BMW SMOD 199714457,0013011,30
CITROEN C3 200846025,0041422,50
CITROEN SAXO 200326431,6523788,49
CHANA-ALSV ALSVANA 201031950,0028755,00
DAIHATSU GRAND MOVE 200022000,0019800,00
FIAT PUNTO 200828950,0026055,00
FIAT UNO 200218000,0016200,00
GEELY CK 201026149,9523534,96
GEELY CK 201026150,1023535,09
HYUNDAI ACCENT T/M 200735000,0031500,00
HYUNDAI ACCENT T/A 201145000,0040500,00
HYUNDAI ACCENT T/A 2009-201037500,0033750,00
HYUNDAI ACCENT T/M 201145000,0040500,00
HYUNDAI ATOS 2007-200921450,0019305,00
HYUNDAI AZERA 200975000,0067500,00
HYUNDAI GETZ 200932250,0029025,00
HYUNDAI SONATA 2009-201060000,0054000,00
KIA PICANTO 201138285,4034456,86
KIA PICANTO 201140854,6036769,14
KIA PICANTO 201141486,4037337,76
KIA PICANTO 201137189,8033470,82
KIA PICANTO 201137782,0034003,80
KIA PICANTO 201135000,0031500,00
KIA PICANTO 201142000,0037800,00
KIA PICANTO 200828000,0025200,00
KIA PICANTO 200935000,0031500,00
MERCEDES BENZ 200660000,0054000,00
MITSUBISHI LANCER 199720000,0018000,00
PEUGEOT 406 199928000,0025200,00
PEUGEOT 106 200316222,9514600,66
PEUGEOT 206 200885227,6076704,84
PEUGEOT 206 200430000,0027000,00
PEUGEOT 407 200430000,0027000,00
PEUGEOT PARTNER 200825600,0023040,00
RENAULT CLIO 200525000,0022500,00
RENAULT SM3 200846116,3041504,67
RENAULT SM3 200830000,0027000,00
RENAULT SM3 200831500,0028350,00
RENAULT SM7 200890000,0081000,00
SEAT ALTEA 200845000,0040500,00
SEAT CORDOVA 200831500,0028350,00
TOYOTA COROLA 200639224,8035302,32
TOYOTA YARIS 200325000,0022500,00
TOYOTA YARIS 200225000,0022500,00
VW JETTA 201051000,0045900,00
VW PASSAT 200854000,0048600,00
VW PASSAT 201067500,0060750,00
VW POLO 200725000,0022500,00
VW POLO 200725000,0022500,00

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