Cars and Cuba’s New Economics

Henry G. Delforn (*)

The Tata Nano, made in India, go for around US $2,500 new. Photo:

HAVANA TIMES, Jan 24 – If you wish well for the Cuban people, especially the middle class, you have no choice but to like Castro’s new economics.

In the first year of the largest economic reform program of the last 54 years now well underway, Cuba’s GDP is expected to grow by 3.4% in 2012 despite the 53-year-old U.S. embargo.

The size of Cuba’s economy is about half the size of Google and about a quarter of Exxon.  But unlike shareholder-only benefits, growth in Cuba’s GDP is expected to bring benefit directly to the middle class citizen.

Indication of this benefit comes from the automobile sector which is one component of President Raul Castro’s revolutionary reform plan, “Proyecto de Lineamientos de la Política Económica y Social“.

Since the 4th quarter of 2011 and in line with the reform plan Cubans have been able to legally buy and sell automobiles. This change is step one in a multi-step process to battle transportation problems and boost the economy.

However, the cost of a typical used car in Cuba is very expensive. For example, a Russian made mid-1980 Lada can cost over 10,000 cuc (11,000 usd) and not even U.S.-funded relatives can afford it. Hence, car prices must come down if this component of the reforms is to succeed. But how will prices come down?

Here are two possible answers to this question. One, a new law could prohibit these high prices. But such law is not likely since it would discourage sellers and would not encourage trade or boost the economy.

A more likely scenario is the flooding of new cheap cars into the market to thereby lower prices and increase GDP with sales of new inexpensive cars. For example, the Indian made Tata Nano which sells new for about 2,500 usd is a likely candidate.

Today, one can buy a new Cuban made Minerva electric motorcycle for about 1,500 cuc, and hence, one can also expect that when this motorcycle market is exhausted, step two in the process will be taken to import new cars.

(*) Henry G. Delforn is an electrical engineer (Cuban-born U.S.citizen) who lives in the U.S. and often travels to Cuba.


11 thoughts on “Cars and Cuba’s New Economics

  • March 3, 2015 at 6:05 am

    Tatas are little more than golf-carts with a cute name, as Elizabeth suggests. But it is appalling to see so many comments made from a perspective that is centered in a world view exclusively anchored in the experiences of the wealthier part of the world, as if life was only comprehensible from that perspective and living standards defined by it (“pride of vehicle ownership”???…)…

  • January 29, 2012 at 12:41 pm

    The issue with this car is that uses the British system where the driver seats on the right hand seat. Not sure if they produce an american version of driver seating on the left.

  • January 26, 2012 at 8:51 am

    This is a city car. The trunk is only accessible from inside the car, as the rear hatch does not open; has only one windscreen wiper instead of the usual pair; has no power steering, unnecessary due to its light weight; has three lug nuts on the wheels instead of the usual four; has only one wing mirror; a radio or CD player can be fitted as accessories only; has no airbags in any model; has a rear engine with only 2 cylinders; and no air conditioning in the base model. It’s the near perfect back-to-basics city car and a great addition to the Island.

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