On the streets of Havana, there is a new sight: an increasing number of electric vehicles whizzing among the old American cars that have become synonymous with the Cuban capital.
Cubans are turning to smaller, cheaper, plug-in alternatives as gas shortages and US disciplinary actions take their toll, and even though electricity generation can be spotty.
“Gasoline? Imagine. After 50 years battling to get hold of it, I don´t even want to smell it anymore!” taxi driver Sixto Gonzalez, told AFP from atop his gleaming, electric-blue quadricycle, which can reach speeds of up to 40 kilometers (25 miles) per hour.
Gonzalez has abandoned his old, gasoline-powered car, one of approximately 600,000 registered on the island of 11.2 million people, according to official data.
The vast majority of cars in Cuba are American models from the 1950s, before sanctions were imposed, and compact Ladas from the Soviet era.
Newer models are nearly impossible to obtain and have hefty price tags ranging between $20,000 and $100,000. In comparison, the quadricycle Gonzalez purchased costs between $4,000 and $8,000 and, while slower, can transport four or five people from point A to point B. Electric motorcycles, of which there are an estimated 40,000 to 50,000 in Cuba, are also becoming increasingly popular, as are three-wheelers, which are increasingly seen dragging a carriage full of passengers or goods.
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