Should I keep my “old” car for now?

2025 is less than seven years away and by then cars on the road in many countries will look very different to how they do now.

Although predicting the future is always difficult, I thought that I would do some research on this subject before embarking on the costly and potentially unnecessary purchase of a new car. What I found was quite enlightening and I thought it may be worth sharing with you.

The Climate Group launched EV100, a new business campaign aimed at fast-tracking the uptake of electric vehicles (EV) and its required infrastructure at the Climate Week in New York City in October 2017.  Helen Clarkson, its CEO explained: “We want to make electric transport the new normal. There are two fundamental problems to be addressed. Transport is still the fastest growing area of carbon emissions, as the shift to electric vehicles is not happening fast enough; and mass system change, even with Government intervention, needs much greater customer demand”.

“EV100 will use companies’ collective global buying power and influence on employees and customers to build demand and cut costs. The members being announced today see the business logic in leading a faster transition and addressing local air quality issues in their markets. They are setting a competitive challenge to the auto industry to deliver more EVs, sooner and at lower cost.”

Unilever, IKEA Group, Deutsche Post DHL Group, Baidu, LeasePlan, HP Inc., METRO AG, Heathrow Airport, PG&E and Vattenfall are the first 10 companies to have signed up to this initiative and have committed to replacing their diesel/petrol vehicle fleets with electric vehicle fleets and installing electric battery charging infrastructure by 2030. LeasePlan is planning to have replaced its entire fleet with electric vehicles by 2021. They recognise that there is a real business case since it will create long-term savings and boost competitiveness whilst enabling their organisations to make a significant contribution towards the protection of the environment.

Given this step change in adopting electric cars, I thought it would be useful to explore the matter further. Speed was one of the reasons why most people did not wish to own an electric car until very recently, but the arrival of Tesla on the market dramatically changed people’s perceptions (although cost, battery technology and charging infrastructure are still barriers to mass market adoption). The British inventor, James Dyson, said last September that he is planning to launch a “radically different” electric car by 2020.

However, I realised that the electric battery charging infrastructure is not quite ready in my country and that the £60,000 entry point price for a Tesla Model S is definitely well over my own definition of a reasonable budget for a car. In my view, they are not an investment but are consumer products instead, which depreciate in value over time.

I subsequently wondered whether I should perhaps keep my “old” petrol car for now (not so old really since after 11 years, it is still in very good condition and will certainly still run for quite a few more years) and then consider sharing a car – when mine would eventually break down. By then, the infrastructure for charging electric cars would have hopefully improved, battery capacity increased and their cost reduced substantially.

After all, my family and I only need a car at the weekend. So, do we really need a car when we could just hire one as and when needed? There are a number of car sharing schemes around these days. A quick Google search took me to the Zipcar and RideLink websites. Zipcar has quite a few parking spots within less than half a mile from my house and one literally 150 yards away. Many of my friends already use car sharing schemes and praise their benefits. They are apparently very convenient with numerous parking spots in large cities. This comes with user friendly booking systems (although some may argue that the need to book in advance results in a loss of spontaneity) and, since they reduce the number of cars manufactured, they are a green and sustainable solution for future transportation.

There are also talks about self-driving cars making their way to the market very soon. BI Intelligence explained recently that by 2020, there would be nearly 10 million cars with one of its self-driving car features on the road. General Motors is apparently ready to launch mass production of self-driving cars.

Finally, my partner mentioned over dinner last night that a number of manufacturers are currently studying the feasibility of testing self-flying cars. Whether this is a viable idea in the near future is not the point here but it definitely made me think.

So, should I buy a new car now out of a mixture of vanity, fear of being seen in an old car by other parents at the school gates, envy of our next-door neighbour’s top of the range latest petrol guzzler or should I follow my own instinct as someone who cares deeply about the environment?

With so many future options on the horizon my conclusion was that I just do not need a new petrol car and will keep my not so “old” one for now. There is a high probability that, in a few years’ time, the cost of electric cars will have substantially decreased, battery capacity will have substantially increased and the charging infrastructure will have vastly improved. Who knows… I may not even want to be seen in my very own car and will instead take pride in riding around (or even flying) in a fully recyclable, user operated fully autonomous or shared scheme electric car sporting a big flashy Zipcar- or equivalent type logo!

I hope that by sharing my very own thought process with you, I have made you ask yourselves a few questions and prompted you to consider how through your very own car ownership, you could actually play a significant part in a more sustainable future for our planet.



9 thoughts on “Should I keep my “old” car for now?

  1. Good read showed pros and cons on the government policy and manufacturers needed change of production and business model. I agreed with both of your points in the argument. However, I wanted to know your view about are electric vehicles more environmental friendly? How about for some cities electric source are un-sustainable power generation? How about should governments and manufacturers consider problem of electric vehicles battery disposal / recycle? I agree with your point on car share. In addition, you raised an important point regarding to one major manufacturer cost high retail prices for change to use electric vehicles. Do you think, balance of market power laws such as standardize part and be able to share parts with same cost like those currently enforce in aviation industry for main manufacturers Boeing and Airbus will lower down to price of electric vehicles and closing the gap for different manufacturers?


  2. Indeed, the subject is a very important one. With the economical development of many countries, many more people will want/need a car, which means more pollution.

    However, I have many questions.

    We are in 2017 and we still drive our car. With all the technology available and the studies showing that most accidents are due to human errors, does this still make sense?
    So, my first question is: is the future of cars really cars? Can’t we create transportation means that are not for a family of 4, while most cars are mostly used by one person going to work? Better trains, school buses, hyperloops etc might be a solution…

    A second question is: do we need to reevaluate the way we live? Now we need cars because we work further than before, we go grocery shopping in a mall outside the city etc (this mostly doesn’t apply to people living in capitals but most of the time, they don’t have cars or use it just on the week ends).
    So, should we reevaluate all this lifestyle we have had since the invention of cars?

    Finally, is this really a good thing to have electric cars if the electricity is still produced by burning petroleum/coal or uranium? We just shift the problem. Electric cars would be environmentally friendly if they use biogas produced with organic waste. Bioethanol is not a solution either, as we would deforest to grow the crop.

    So for me, electric car is not the solution. It is only one aspect of the problem as well as one aspect of the solution.


    1. You are right. Electric vehicles are not the best solution but they are in my view better than petrol vehicles. Modifying our lifestyles would actually be a better solution but as another student was explaining in her blog, it will take time for people to re-assess their values and change their attitudes towards transport means.


  3. I really enjoyed your blog and the issues you considered in it. One of the challenges that the electric cars presents to our family is the inability to drive large distances without the need for recharging. Living in Australia our geography is very different to that of Europe and the driving expectations that come with that. It’s completely reasonable that I could drive 2 / 3 hours each way for a meeting in a day where public transport isn’t yet flexible enough to consider it and there aren’t the recharging points along the way to make sure I can cover the distance. I’m all for adopting new technology but I need to guarantee I won’t be left standing in the middle of the highway by doing so.


    1. I agree with you. We definitely do not want to be left standing in the middle of the highway!

      The infrastructure is not ready yet here is the UK and there is still a lot to be done until it is able to cope with the deployment of electric vehicles nationwide.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I really enjoyed reading your blog. I found it insightful as I have been thinking about this question for some time. I visited Tesla showroom three weeks ago. They had a chart on the wall explaining ROI. Personally for me Model S numbers do not stack. May be their cheaper version Model 3 have better economics but I agree with you argument that it is consumer product. Given the opportunity I did change my Diesel car to more efficient petrol couple of years ago. I do ask myself that was that enough ? May be not and I could have gone for electric car but it was early days for electric cars. Technology is still evolving, carbon footprint of producing Tesla S was equivalent to a full-sized internal combustion car except for the battery, which added 15% or one metric ton of CO2 emissions to the total manufacturing. Swedish study. found that production of a 100 kWh battery—Tesla’s biggest—produces 17.5 tons of carbon dioxide. In another study, Devonshire Research Group, an investment firm that specializes in valuing tech companies, dug into the data and concluded that Tesla’s environmental benefits may be more hyped than warranted. Devonshire isn’t saying that Tesla is pulling a Volkswagen, or that its cars are spewing greenhouse gases from invisible tailpipes. It’s arguing that Teslas (and, by extension, all electric vehicles) create pollution and carbon emissions in other ways. Each stage of an EV’s life has environmental impacts, and while they aren’t as obvious as a tailpipe pumping out fumes, that doesn’t make them any less damaging. Counter argument could also be made that logistic costs of moving gasoline is not counted in the conventional cars.

    Without exaggerating, I do ask myself a question that what level of ‘Greenwash’ is going on.


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