Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Miami electric car dealer sees opportunity in Cuban gas shortage

Miami electric car dealer sees opportunity in Cuban gas shortage
By Marc Frank | HAVANA

An electric car dealer with a Miami subsidiary is telling Cuba-based
diplomats struggling with a gasoline shortage on the Communist-run
Caribbean island that they should fret no longer.

The United States, which maintains a trade embargo on Cuba, licensed
Premier Automotive Export to sell vehicles to non-state entities in
Cuba, such as embassies and private companies, as part of detente under
former president Barack Obama.

"We put together a special offer and are distributing the flier - a 2016
Nissan (7201.T) Leaf electric sedan, plus super charger, for $25,000,
including shipping direct from Miami to Mariel Port," said John Felder,
owner of Premier's Cayman Islands-based parent, Automotive Leasing and
Sales Co.

The cash-strapped Cuban government cut back deliveries of high-octane
gasoline this month, sending diplomats, other foreigners and better-off
Cubans scrambling to locate fuel and waiting in long lines to fill up
their cars.

It was not clear how long the shortage would last, and the government
has not commented on the situation.

Most Cubans who own cars, mainly vintage American and Soviet-era models,
use lesser-quality fuel that can damage modern engines.

To date, Felder has sold just one of his vehicles, to the Guyanese
Embassy before the shortages began.

Ambassador Halim Majeed said his government purchased the car as part of
its green energy initiative, but now it has proved handy indeed.

"I'm lucky, and I'm happy about that," He said.

Majeed said other diplomats had always shown interest in his electric
car, but there was more now.

"It is natural that when one faces an issue, you devise ways and means
to overcome that challenge," he said, "and in this situation, the
electrical vehicle can help do that."

Cuba depends on crisis-racked ally Venezuela for about 70 percent of its
fuel needs, including oil for refining and re-exports.

But socialist Venezuela's subsidized shipments have fallen by as much as
40 percent since 2014. Potential new suppliers usually want cash due to
Cuba's poor credit rating.

Two of three Cuban refineries have closed or have operated well below
capacity for months.

Swedish Ambassador Jonas Loven said he would "think seriously" about
Premier's offer the next time the embassy changes its official car.

"It would send a good CO2 message as well," Loven said. "Unfortunately,
we just bought a new Mercedes."

(Reporting by Marc Frank; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)

Source: Miami electric car dealer sees opportunity in Cuban gas shortage
| Reuters -

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