The eternal dilemma – environment/cost considerations

I’m not really an Eco warrior. I do my bit, save power & recycle like everyone should, but the major driver for me in being more economical & in turn environmentally friendly is costs. I hate paying lots of money to oil company’s, gas suppliers, electricity companies and other multi nationals who literally have us over a barrel. They have given us an appetite for energy with low costs and now we are held to ransom paying huge amounts of money to continue our lifestyle. Much worse is that many of these things such as driving to work and heating our homes are not luxuries. If we don’t drive to work or to city centres to shop, we put nothing back into our economy and then become a burden on the rest of the taxpayers. This burden may not be that great for city dwellers but for anyone who lives remotely rurally this is a nightmare scenario.

Many people live in suburbs, its the way communities have developed since the introduction of cheap vehicles & fuel. Now these people, myself included, are being squeezed for everything they are worth while inner city dwellers feel little of the pinch with regards to fuel. They may complain about small hikes in public transport costs, but this is nothing compared to the costs of fuel.

3 years ago when I bought my diesel car, diesel was sub £1 a litre. By Easter this year it is expected to hit £1.50 a litre. It now costs me £40 to drive 170 miles, not factoring in the cost of my car, insurance, road tax, servicing, mot. Now city dwellers will claim that there is no need for a car, but they would, public transport is very convenient and often leads these people to be better off. Have you seen the cost of the London congestion charge & the cost of parking?

Rural folk have access to terrible public transport, bus routes are being cut or stopped completely & train fares have become extortionate. Looking at my own running costs, I am about £400 a month to use my car. Inner city folk will pay nowhere near this amount in public transport and yet complain about fares and service non stop.

This has left me in a huge pickle. I currently drive an old but very well maintained land rover Freelander. Anyone who has lived through a Scottish winter will attest to the need for a 4×4. It is the most economical car I could find in this class of vehicle averaging 32mpg on a run and 24mpg around town. I would never part with my land rover, it is my hobby, I am however seeking out a daily driver to save money.

I see two options available to me, the Nissan leaf 100% EV which is ludicrously expensive to buy at £25k plus, but cheap as chips to run or the toyota Prius hybrid.

The leaf has a 24kwh battery which if charged on an economy 7 tariff at around 4p per kwh would cost 96p per 100 miles, or simplified less than 1p per mile (compared to my current 25p per mile in the land rover). The only limiting factor is the 100 mile range but I could either run up and down the country using fast charge stations, or visiting friends & family along the way, or use the Land Rover for the few long journeys a year and use the leaf daily for everything else. The only barrier to me doing this is getting the car itself. I am self employed as is my wife, in the current climate finance companies will not touch self employed people unless they are on a very healthy income. We are on a good wage but it’s not astronomical. We were recently declined finance on an £11k car due to our self employed status so £25k is a long shot. I would love to go out and buy a leaf today, I would even entertain a lease but they are also hard to come by.

The second option is a Prius. Again a used Prius can be picked up for around £6-10k used, but I’m struggling to figure out a way to finance it. Lenders aren’t lending so I’m kind of stuck in limbo until I either save for the Prius, or wait until finance picks up and finance a leaf. It seems a bit daft to buy a Prius whilst keeping a land rover for the winter or long journeys, so the leaf is definitely the way I would like to proceed. If anyone has any ideas how I could finance a leaf please get in touch.

Sorry this has become somewhat of a rant, but I’m really exasperated by the whole situation. I want a leaf, I want to do my bit & save money, but the barriers to entry are pretty great. I would love to lease or finance the car if someone would give me the opportunity, until then I’m stuck with a car I own outright with no way of making the situation better until the economy improves. Welcome to Tory Britain in 2012.

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John Large

My name is John Large. I am a Web Developer, E-commerce site owner & all round geek. My areas of interest include hardware hacking, digital privacy & security, social media & computer hardware. I’m also a minimalist in the making, interested in the Tiny House movement & the experience economy along with a strong interest in sustainability & renewable energy. When I’m not tapping on a keyboard or swiping a smart phone I can be found sampling great coffee, travelling the world with my wife Vicki (who writes over at Let’s Talk Beauty) & generally trying to live my life as unconventionally as possible.

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