"The Russian of the Used Taxis"
"The Russian of the Used Taxis"

«The Russian of the Used Taxis»

28 de octubre de 2008
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This young Belarusian woman, Natalia Arlova, has already bought around five hundred vehicles from taxi drivers to export them to her country in the second-hand business. She pays better than dealerships, and even the Civil Guard sells her patrol cars.

Among taxi drivers, she is known as ‘The Russian.’ She is in her twenties and has been buying used taxis in Malaga and the Costa del Sol for three years to sell them in Belarus, her home country. Natalia Arlova came to Malaga at the age of 18 and got a job at an industrial machinery company in Casabermeja, where her brother worked.

 

The slender girl mastered Spanish perfectly and upon meeting her current husband, Alex Khistouski, they decided to try their luck in the world of exports. They started very modestly and now send two trailers loaded with used cars to Belarus every month. They go directly to vehicle resale shops or private buyers.

Taxis that have roamed the streets of Malaga, Fuengirola, Torremolinos, Benalmádena, or Marbella are now seen in cities of this Slavic republic. These vehicles have gone from the sun to the icy temperatures of that country, which, until 1991, was part of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). «Vehicles in Malaga and on the Coast are better preserved, as far as the bodywork is concerned, than in other colder countries like Germany and Belgium,» Natalia points out.

Since they started in this business until today, they have already exported half a thousand vehicles; not only taxis but also patrol cars from the Civil Guard and the Police. The company run by this entrepreneurial couple is called Impo Expo By 5210, a limited company that has all the permits from the Spanish authorities for the export of used vehicles. «Everything is in order. We pass Customs controls at the port,» she warns. The vehicle is permanently deregistered in the Traffic Department, and only the technical card is kept. «We hand over the other documents to the seller,» she states.

They acquired land in the Guadalhorce industrial estate, very close to the headquarters of the Unified Malaga Association of Taxi Self-Employed Workers (AUMAT), with whose group they began to work in the early stages of their activity. The cars they buy are between five and six years old, if they are taxis from the capital, or between three and four years old, if they are from the Coast. They are cars that have between 500,000 and 600,000 kilometers.

Natalia Arlova pays a little more than the dealership, so the seller (taxi driver) comes out ahead and she ensures a high number of units for her export. Furthermore, «the taxi driver does not get rid of the old car until he receives the new one; that is, he does not lose a single hour. If he hands it over at the dealership, it stays there for two or three days until they register the vehicle,» she emphasizes.

Mid-range cars Belarus’s economy has maintained growth rates above 6% in the last three years, although high inflation levels persist. A large part of the population lives below the poverty line, which is why the second-hand market is thriving. Natalia Arlova takes that circumstance into account and avoids high-end vehicles. She focuses on mid-range cars: Opel Zafira, Peugeot 406, Skoda Fabia, and Seat Toledo, which are more affordable for her compatriots. «We don’t take advantage of people here or there,» she confesses. Only once did she buy a Mercedes with a million kilometers on it, «but we kept it ourselves.»

Despite her youth, she has enough knowledge and criteria to know that she is not being deceived. «Taxi drivers don’t fool me, although I understand that they also have to make a profit. I’m not an expert, but I can differentiate between what’s good and what’s not. Besides, we operate with a list of prices, brand, and year of the car.»

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