Ticos are dying

The Tico is a small car that was produced by Daewoo. In the 1990s, thousands were imported to Peru, mostly for use as taxis. I don’t think Ticos would be street legal in the US or Western Europe (although I have seen some in Poland), but here in Cusco the fact that they are so small and maneuverable actually made them quite handy.

When I first visited Peru in 2005, it seemed like 80% of the taxis in Cusco were Ticos. You see many of them in other parts of Peru as well, but I think Cusco was like the Mecca of Ticos, because the narrow city streets were perfect for the Tico. In Lima you see some Ticos, but when you’re on a major highway like the Via Expressa, riding in a Tico is pretty scary.

Considering that most Ticos are used as taxis and circle the potholed streets of Cusco 12 or 14 hours a day, it’s quite surprising that they have lasted this long. However, the Ticos are really showing their age now.

Tico has seen better days

This Tico has seen better days

Most Ticos are not quite in as bad a shape this one that I saw parked along the Panamericana highway, but when I’m hailing a taxi I now often pass up a Tico to wait for a better car…

In the years since I’ve been visiting Peru, Ticos are noticeably becoming a smaller part of the taxi fleet, with more and more new cars taking their place – mostly Toyota, Suzuki, some European brands as well as the Chinese brands such as Chery and Jac.