Sunday, February 28, 2010

Why Buying a $32,000 Car is An Act of Minimalism

A $32,000 toy hardly is anyone’s idea of simple living, or of “doing without.” Yet, my $32,000 car precisely represents how I view minimalism, and how that kind of cost can be justified as being responsible.
My toy is a 2009 Prius – a hybrid vehicle that, in winter, gets 42mpg (Imperial gallons, 51 US gal.), and 60 mpg in the summer. Yes, that is a little way from the 72 mpg rating that it has received, but those tests are made on the flat, at constant temperatures and speeds without the air conditioner on. But this kind of mileage is one of the reasons I bought my responsible toy. Each year, based on the average distances I drive, with a fuel cost of $4.50/gal (Cdn), I will spend $2,700. The next best mileage in a comparable vehicle would cost me $900 more per year. I plan on keeping that car 20 years. I will save $18,000 in fuel alone.
My experience with Toyota vehicles is that they last longer than the Energizer Bunny. My most recent car, a Toyota Echo, is still going (I gave it to my son to replace his Ford F150), and has 496,000 km on the odometer. It has been treated extra roughly, maintained poorly, and used, often, like an offroad vehicle. But, until I gave it to my son, I spent less than $1,900 on repairs and maintenance, including tires and windshield wipers! Estimated cost of maintenance and repair on the average sedan is more than $1,100 per year, so I will save at least $16,000 on repairs.
My Prius is not a small car. We have transported my wife’s parents on long excursions on three occasions. Luggage for four people, plus those passengers still did not fill the car completely. So, I will seldom need to rent a trailer or U-Haul to move items.
The Prius is designed for older people, with its easy-entry doors, high seats, good site lines. We will still be able to drive this car safely when I am almost 80!
The car’s colour is quite neutral. Fewer washings, less worry about fading, easy exterior maintenance all reduce costs.
Toyotas hold their value. If I needed to sell the vehicle, my return would be far better than any domestic car. So, again, its initial cost is not a cost, but an investment.
There are dozens of other reasons why this car is economical, dozens of reasons why it represents green stewardship, dozens of reasons why it is the best car a minimalist could buy. There are very few reasons you could find as to why buying the Prius is an act of excess, or indulgence. But, in spite of all the pros, and very few cons, there is one overriding reason why I bought this car – my wife insisted on it!