As fuel shortages wreak havoc in Cuba, Havana’s young people turn to electric scooters – ABC News

If not for the music blasting from speakers, the motorcycles racing and performing stunts on the highway outside Cuba’s capital of Havana would be almost silent.  

The island nation has seen an influx of “motorinas”, as the electric scooters are dubbed, in recent years, with 300, 000 associated with them circulating nationwide.

Cuban authorities permitted their importation last decade and the particular government has promoted them as an option to cars and public transport amid extreme gas and diesel shortages.

The particular National Transit Directorate’s head of vehicle registry Colonel Mario Rios Labrada said in comparison there were an estimated 500, 000 cars.

The motorcycles can cost between $US2, 000 and $US5, 500 ($2, 900-7, 200), with many imported through China through Panama.

People on e-scooters wearing motorbike helmets drive through smoke/dust cloud

Young people meet on the road to race and do stunts on the e-scooters.   ( AP: Ramon Espinosa  )

Cuban officials said a locally made electric powered motorcycle called the Minerva was being produced at an old bicycle manufacturing warehouse in Villa Clara.

“There is an ‘outbreak’ of electric motorcycles, everyone likes all of them, ” stated 20-year-old rider Ernesto José Salazar.

“We got to meet up with 200 motorbikes, honking plus listening to songs. ”

Young riders, meeting through social media, spend hours discussing the benefits of a battery or where to buy tires or find the best workshop.

A dog lays on the ground getting belly scratch from a foot while man works on bike in background

The bikes are the lifeline inside a country hit hard by fuel shortages.   ( AP: Ramon Espinosa )

The gas shortages plaguing Cuban drivers also hinders the electricity generators feeding the nation’s power grid, which collapsed in June.

Electric mobility scooter drivers recharged the batteries through normal power sockets but have been left out of luck during power outages.

Oil shortages have been caused by difficulties in Venezuela – an ally and supplier associated with the island – plus US sanctions.  

The public transport system has also been affected by shortages of parts to repair broken down buses.  

A laptop sits on the back of a red motorbike

Cuba’s e-scooter riders share tips and information via social media.   ( AP: Ramon Espinosa )

Ministry associated with Energy plus Mines  strategy director Ramsés Montes Calzadilla said in an interview along with news website Cubadebate that electricity would “always be cheaper” than diesel and gas.

“In addition, electric motors are much more efficient than combustion engines, a person can save up to 70 per cent of the cost of energy, ” he said.

However, since the electric powered motorcycles change Cuba’s urban landscape these people also create challenges.

A person in a motorcycle helmet stands over an e-scooter. He has a detailed tattoo of woman on shoulder

The particular e-scooters have got transformed Cuba’s cities since they were first allowed into the country.   ( AP: Ramon Espinosa )

The batteries tend to catch fire plus their relative silence, coupled with driver inexperience, has caused traffic accidents.

The latest Fire Department figures indicated in the first half of 2020 there were 263 fires from motorcycles with gel or even lithium electric batteries.

It was within stark contrast to 2019, when presently there were 208 fires within the entire year.


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