Spanish company Flexible Autos will offer car rental services for tourists in Cuba. Its operations have started in February, according to the Spanish website Agent Travel.
The company will provide services through its subsidiary Cuba On The Road, which already has headquarters and offices in the Cuban capital, Havana, in several hotels in Old Havana, Vedado and Miramar.
Cuba On The Road will also offer its own roadside assistance service, which will guarantee a better service. Cars will be bookable through the Internet.
Cuba On The Road is a product designed by Daiquiri Tours for visitors who wish to “explore Cuba in freedom and comfort”. They offer services and itineraries in motorhomes, jeeps, scooters and bicycles, according to their website.
However, the information provided so far does not specify whether customers will be able to make reservations directly. What is known is that Flexible Autos operates as an intermediary for agencies and tour operators.
Nor have the prices of the services offered by the car rental company been specified.
Cuba has a high tourist demand, but so far the car rental system for tourists or travelers from abroad is very inefficient, says the Agent Travel article.
Flexible Autos director Alessandro Patacchiola said, “We are confident that this destination will meet a historically high demand and with Cuba On The Road we are sure to offer the best possible provider.”
Initially, Flexible Autos will have at its disposal a fleet of the Jeep UAZ Patriot, a Russian-made SUV, marketed internationally at affordable prices, which was introduced in 2005 as a replacement for the UAZ Simbir.
The UAZ Patriot is an SUV with large cargo capacity (it can carry up to 200 kg of cargo) and has space for 5 adults.
Flexible Autos operates in more than 120 destinations. In total it has so far 22,000 pick-up points worldwide and only markets its products through travel agencies.
The implications of the fact that the main car supplier for Flexible Autos in Cuba is a Russian manufacturer remain to be seen. The Russian invasion of Ukraine has unleashed a wave of sanctions that would affect Russian companies and, in turn, all those doing business with Russian entities.
Inefficiencies of the car rental service in Cuba
There are very bad opinions and lousy experiences about the car rental system in Cuba. These opinions can be easily traced in social networks and the Internet.
In Cuba the supply of rental cars is much lower than the demand, hence the Cuban government, even in the midst of the pandemic and strong economic restrictions, has invested in the purchase of cars for tourism.
The availability of cars has been so scarce in recent years that there are travel agencies that hire at risk to face the beginning of the high season.
On the Internet there are many car rental agencies in Cuba. In practice, what most of these agencies do is rent cars from Cuban companies such as CUBACAR, Rex, Havanautos and then charge a surcharge for the service.
The prices are very high. An economy car can cost between $70 and $85 per day. This is a high price even compared to the tourist markets in the region.
However, in the long run, renting a car is cheaper than paying for a cab or hiring a car with a driver, if the tourist wishes to tour the country.