For me there is only one thing more difficult than buying a new car and that is buying two new cars. Both my wife and myself need to make a decision on what we are going to drive for the next few years.
y car is chunky and clunky. It uses so much diesel I sometimes think people are about to report me to Greta Thunberg. My wife is less of a threat to the ozone layer. She has a more conventional family car but it labours and groans every time she turns the key.
We have no one to blame but ourselves. We have kept them too long. The fondness we have for both Wez and Buster means it will be hard to say goodbye. You only give names to special cars and both of these old bangers have served us well.
The decision not to replace them a few years ago grew from good intentions. We were waiting to see a wider choice of electric cars. We are both keen to help protect the environment but the lack of charging points on the road between Belfast and Donegal has put us off. The lack of charging points on the road between Belfast and anywhere has put us off.
It was all so much easier before I was born. In the late 1950s my Uncle Michael bought a new car and then asked my father to teach him to drive. It was as simple as buying a new coat. They set off from Newry to Dublin. Uncle Michael followed the instructions and was gaining some confidence but a car in front stopped suddenly and he crashed into the back of it. The front of Michael’s car rippled.
My father then advised him to keep his eyes peeled for any brake lights. A little later another driver in front stopped and Michael abruptly stood on the brakes and the vehicle behind him crashed into the back of his new motor. Another ripple to match the one at the front. They started the journey in a car but were now travelling in something that resembled an accordion. An early example of a hybrid?
My father gave me considerable advice when I bought my first car. He was a big fan of anything made in Japan and eventually when I chose a car that wasn’t Japanese I felt I was letting him down. I could do with him now. He would embrace the electric age. I don’t have the confidence. Neither does my wife. We might consider the hybrid option but new ones are very expensive and a second hand hybrid would be too big a risk to take.
In the meantime the search continues. A friend suggested a Mini Countryman.
He said: “You’re not very tall and you’re a man from the country.”
Not very helpful but if I could find one in black with tinted glass, leather upholstery, dark wheels, petrol engine and less than 15,000 miles on the clock I’d be tempted. The problem is I have always had a soft spot for a big four wheel drive machine. That’s what I have at present. I feel guilty. By considering a smaller car I’m making a gesture towards saving the planet. It is a sacrifice.
I’m going to miss that king of the road feeling I get when steering Buster through Belfast. I won’t miss paying the monthly diesel bill nor the annual £530 road tax. I’m being penalised every time I go on the road but there is an environmental crisis so I can’t complain. It’s time to change but it’s also time for the government to do more.
The charging points need to be as obvious as the petrol stations and probably most importantly of all, the prices of electric and hybrid cars need to be reduced. In the meantime having delayed changing our cars for so many years we have another two MOT appointments. We’ve been to the test centres so many times we feel we know the staff as friends.
Frank presents U105 Phone In Mon-Fri from 9am-noon.