Now here’s something you don’t see every day. A new Infiniti Q60 cruising the streets of Cuba.
The automaker recently brought the first new U.S. market car to Cuba in 58 years. The driver at the helm – Infiniti’s design chief Alfonso Albasia. He’s a Cuban American and, amid lightening restrictions on car imports, he took the opportunity over last summer to trace his family’s heritage back in Cuba. Infiniti is only just now releasing a video of the history making trip.
The new Q60 is the first set of new wheels to touch ground on the island in decades and to say it stood out is an understatement. For years in Cuba, the only option when it comes to cars has been models from 1959 and earlier.
Albaisa says some of his design inspiration comes from his great-uncle of Max Borges-Recio, a mid-century modern Cuban architect. That influence comes across in the clean sweeping lines to the fender flares of today’s Infinitis.
“My feeling that design is also a cultural mirror that mirror is showing the dreams of society and to make what is beyond our expectations,” Albasia said.
New cars are a long time coming in Cuba. Nearly 60 years ago, 58 to be exact, Castro banned the import of foreign vehicles. That’s why you see so many older cars in immaculate condition in Cuba today. Cubans had to keep them running because they had no other choice. Now Cuba looks like a living car museum where classic old models are the norm for everyday use.
Albaisa unveiled the Q60 in a private event at an art gallery. There he met with nearly 150 local designers, architects, and artist. He found words of hope after meeting them.
“From the passion in their eyes, I could see that DNA-wise, we are the same. If my family could escape the island and I could end up designing luxury cars in Japan, then they can do great things too.”
Hopefully this first step towards open trade will pave the way for more new cars to make their way to the island.