344 Russian taxis arrive in Havana. Purpose: tourism.

A Höegh Autoliners cargo ship on Friday (Jan. 18) offloaded 320 Lada Vesta and 24 Lada Largus Cross cars of Russian manufacture in the port of Havana, the news agency TASS reported.

All cars are painted in bright yellow and are intended for use in the tourism industry by the Taxis Cuba organization. They are built by AvtoVAZ in the Samaran city of Tolyatti.

“For eight months, we tested several Ladas and they proved themselves to be very reliable,” Jorge Luis Díaz Hernández, Taxis Cuba’s CEO told TASS. “We were looking forward to the arrival of this lot.”

Funding for the transaction was provided by the Russian Export Center and Vnesheconombank.

Russian Ladas are on their way to Cuba

At present, Cuba imports about 3,000 cars a year, TASS claims. A significant number of them are used in the fast-growing tourism industry, replenishing the fleets of taxi, rental and travel companies.

“Every year, the influx of tourists increases. Cars are needed for this industry and Lada would like to share in this growing market,” says Marat Gabitov, commercial director of Ivekta, the company that distributes AvtoVAZ vehicles in Cuba.

From Russian frost to Cuban sands

Ivekta will be responsible for the warranty for the vehicles and their post-warranty service. It will also provide spare parts.

According to the Internet portal The Observatory of Economic Complexity (OEC), Cuba imported $50 million worth of cars in 2015. AvtoVAZ’s president, Nikolya Mor, has said that Cuba is one of his priority markets in Latin America. The company expects to continue selling Ladas to Cuba and increase the volume of sales.

Exports account for 4.6 of AvtoVAZ’s total revenue. One of the automaker’s most important foreign partner was the nation of Kazakhstan, but after the introduction of the 2016 models, the volume of trade fell sharply and the company began to switch to other destinations, such as Belarus, the European Union countries and Cuba.

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