Land of the $262,000 Family Car

January 13th, 2014

The $262,000 Peugeot

Today let’s take a few moments to appreciate our ability to buy and sell cars at reasonable prices.

Even though the process of buying a car, especially from a dealer, can take hours (or days, as you’ll soon read), we at the very least know we are paying a fair price. In fact, almost anyone living and working in this country can afford to buy a vehicle.

Cuba, on the other hand, isn’t so fortunate. Until this month, Cuban citizens could purchase new cars only with special government permission, or buy from the available lot of vehicles that were in the country before the 1959 revolution.

Things have finally changed, but the results make me grateful I live where I do.

New and late-model used cars are finally available in Cuba, but the dealerships are state-run, and prices are anything but affordable. While citizens no longer need government permission to purchase a new car, one would cost more than the average worker there will make during his or her entire lifetime.

With average salaries somewhere around $20 per month in Cuba, prices at a Havana Peugeot dealer ranged from $91,000 for a 2013 206 to $262,000 for a 508.

A Reuters article had this quote:

“These prices show a lack of respect for all Cubans. What is here are wrecks. I now have no hope of getting a car for my family,” artist Cesar Perez said, looking at a 2005 Renault on sale for the equivalent of $25,000 and available outside the country on the Internet for $3,000.

Ouch.

That puts some perspective on my recent car-buying experience. I was frustrated after spending an hour waiting for a business manager at my local Audi dealership last month and even more irritated when the paperwork wasn’t ready and I had to come back, twice, to get things right. Even considering the wasted trips to the dealer, the price I paid for the car was more than fair, and the people were genuinely concerned for causing me so much inconvenience. They went above and beyond to make sure I was properly compensated for the trouble.

I’m exceptionally grateful for my ability to buy whichever car I choose and a negotiate a mutually acceptable price. Cuba, let’s hope your time is coming!

What car would you drive if you had to choose one from 1959 or earlier?

-tgriffith

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