The Economist has a brief case study of automotive ineptitude
SELDOM, since the day Adolf Hitler gave the order to produce the Volkswagen, has a car been given such an explicitly ideological mission. But the vehicles that roll, occasionally, off the production line at Venirauto’s factory, west of Caracas, will free Venezuelans from the “yoke of capitalism,” declares President Hugo Chávez. The factory was opened with great fanfare by the president three years ago. It is a joint venture between Iran and Venezuela, which Mr Chávez predicts will turn his country into a car exporter. It is also intended to be an example of socialist production principles, although its workers see things a little differently.
In December they downed tools over the company’s refusal to negotiate a collective contract. Their wages, even at the grossly overvalued official exchange rate, are worth around $25 a day. They complained of poor safety conditions and exploitative work practices. Their supposedly socialist employer refuses to recognise trade unions and has ignored the labour ministry’s order to reinstate sacked union activists.
Venirauto’s cars are rehashes of clapped-out 1980s models from the imperialist West. The Turpial, a five-door hatchback, is based on the Ford Festiva, while the Centauro saloon is a clone of the Peugeot 405, though both are fitted with a conversion kit allowing them to run on natural gas. Their capitalist-busting claims are based on price: they undercut rival models by around 50%. If you can get one, that is.
This is what a Turpial looks like:
And a Centauro:
The Economist continues,
Perhaps it is just as well that the 30,000 customers the government says are waiting for an anti-capitalist car should learn to do without one.
Of course Chávez is ready to preach by example:
When not praising the Turpial and the Centauro, Mr Chávez has been known to rail against the whole concept of car ownership. “The urge to get a car,” he told students on one occasion, “is poison to the human soul”. With that, he got into his limousine and rode off.