New Cars Coming to Cuba? It Won't Be So Easy

Cars cost money and Cubans don't have much to spend.

This topic was bound to come up sooner or later. Now the United States has announced it’ll open direct ties with Cuba for the first time in over half a century, many have been wondering what’s going to happen to the island nation’s car scene. Cuba’s streets are filled with automotive gems of yesteryear, though these aging displays of 1950s Americana have been heavily modified and outfitted over the decades to keep them running. A majority of Cubans live modestly and can’t afford new or used America cars.

Since Obama’s announcement, automakers, such as the Detroit 3, are paying attention. Business opportunities await. But it’s not only these companies who are watching; Florida-based auto dealers are too. Someone will have to set up the franchise infrastructure. That won’t happen immediately, however. Obama hasn’t lifted the embargo; he’s simply called for high-level diplomatic talks to get underway. Lifting the sanctions will require Congressional approval. Whatever happens, the Cuban automotive scene will change. There are a total of 650,000 cars on the island, half of which are government-owned. The remaining ones are pre-1959 Americans classics, Russian, Chinese and even Korean vehicles.

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