Friday, January 05, 2007

Second Car Justification

This is hard for me, but it is time to come clean. We just got a second car. This has been a huge moral dilemma for me. We have tried to make a commitment to only have one car in our lives, but this has been difficult to organise especially on weekends. The work week is fine, I ride my bike to work and, when my wife needs a vehicle for work she drives or takes the bus when she doesn't.

I dreamed of getting something to help us with our busy weekend schedule -- kids to soccer, dance, play dates, downhill skiing, and cross country skiing. What I really wanted was an xtracycle and a Stokemonkey like Bike Hugger has done with Bettie. This would be a great way to get around while still being on a bike. But then we got to thinking. We live in the Pacific Northwest -- it rains, and in fact it rains a lot. Now I'm OK with the rain while riding, but the kids might not take kindly to being dropped off at day care or soccer after a ride through the deluge. And then there are the hills. We live a good distance up a mountain. Not the best for the electric assist. Finally, after pricing the whole thing out it was expensive, probably around $3500.00. That's not for the faint of heart!

We have a mini van. Now I'm not sure why SUV's get all the bad press, cause mini vans aren't any better in terms of fuel consumption. They have the same engines as SUV's and most likely the same mass. We have a 2003 Honda Odyssey. It was supposed to have one of the best fuel efficiency ratings of all the minivans. Someone lied! These things suck back the gas. We average 14L/100km (that is including highway driving), when I look at city driving that number goes to a whooping 17L/100km (that's less than 14 US MPG or 16.5 IMP MPG). Now the guilt is setting in. This was our only vehicle, but we still put about 18,000 km/year on it, so that's over 2000 L/year. Ouch! there has to be a better way.

We already try and minimise the Van use -- I ride to work and my wife takes the bus when she can. But there are jobs to go to, kids to pick up from daycare and school, swimming lessons, skating lessons, taekwon do, and skiing. I think we were doing pretty well fitting all this in with only one vehicle.

Then came the bait. My mother-in-law decided to trade in her Toyota Echo for a Yaris. Now the Echo will take less than 8 L/100 km in the city (half of what the Van gets), the price of the Echo was a "family" rate, so really all we need to pay for is insurance, ~$100/ month, and fuel.

The benefits are that we drive, predominantly, a small car the gets great gas mileage. We stay dry (unlike the electric bike option), and we have the option of taking the Van when we need to.

So ther is the justification, and now I feel a lot better. Although I still dream of a Big Dummy with a Stokemonkey, maybe some day.


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